Sunday, July 18, 1999

Bengals' solution for too many commercials: New technology

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Connecting with Bengals fans appears to be a vital mission of Paul Brown Stadium.

        “When you over-commercialize a product, you run the risk of alienating fans, and undermining that fan-team loyalty,” said Todd Blackburn, the team's director of stadium development.

        The Bengals' solution: technology.

        The new stadium will feature little in the way of permanent advertising signage. Instead, it will use two large (27 feet by 90 feet) electronic scoreboards, as well as 200-foot-long electronic boards along the grandstands above the canopy level parallel to each sideline.

        All these boards will be fully programmable. The long sideline boards can display advertising and information about the game. The endzone scoreboards can do that as well, and show replays and highlights. Mr. Blackburn said these boards can help animate the crowd, as well as service sponsors.

        Mr. Blackburn said the Bengals have waited to actually buy these boards, to allow the technology to be refined. The team will call for bids in August and choose a contractor in September.

        He calls this a “groundbreaking” move in sports. Other franchises might only consider it groundbreaking if the Bengals prove they can make money with it.

        “We think we have worked hard with the county to make this a landmark project,” Mr. Blackburn said of the stadium. “The only measure for success isn't the amount of money we can make on it. It's how our fans can enjoy the game.”


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