SBJ/Sept. 20-26, 2010/Facilities

Panasonic scoreboard taking center stage at Staples Center

Staples Center scoreboardGetty Images
Four LED screens beneath the board point toward the first 15 rows of the lower bowl.
Staples Center will introduce Panasonic’s first center-hung scoreboard in a big league arena.

Panasonic is one of 10 founding partners at the Los Angeles arena. The electronics giant signed its deal in 2009 and has its video screens on display at L.A. Live, the retail and entertainment district across the street from the arena. AEG owns and operates Staples Center and helped develop L.A. Live.

At Staples Center, the $11 million investment also covers a new control room to operate the full high-definition board, said Lee Zeidman, Staples Center’s senior vice president and general manager.

The board’s retail value would have been $15 million without the founding partner sponsorship deal between Panasonic and AEG, Zeidman said.

The center-hung unit is thought to be the first in the NBA and NHL to have four LED screens nestled underneath the board with a view exclusive to patrons sitting in the first 15 rows of the lower bowl, according to Zeidman. For the early portion of hockey and basketball seasons, those four screens will be limited to showing images during stoppages in play because of the possibility they might distract players on the ice and the court. AEG needs the approval of the leagues before it can show live game action on the screens, and Zeidman should know by January whether it can remove the restrictions.

AEG first talked with Panasonic about the board during the NBA Finals and did not have the luxury of getting both leagues to sign off on the design before placing its order in time for the coming seasons, Zeidman said.

The upgraded board, six feet deeper and three feet greater in circumference than the old unit, presents additional revenue opportunities for the NBA Lakers and Clippers and NHL Kings. The three clubs are marketing the new addition, he said.

The Panasonic product ties in with Daktronics’ scoring package and LED ribbon boards. Daktronics, in conjunction with Mitsubishi, made Staples Center’s old center-hung board, which had been in place since the arena opened in 1999.

Panasonic’s two other major league sports installations are the scoreboards for Red Bull Arena and PPL Park, the two newest MLS stadiums.

The new board was slated to make its debut on a limited basis during the Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora fight scheduled for this past Saturday. It is expected to be fully operational for Thursday’s Kings preseason game with Phoenix, Zeidman said.

IN AND OUT: The Charlotte Bobcats are considering running the team store at Time Warner Cable Arena in-house this coming season after the franchise’s former vendor moved from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

XP Events, the Bobcats’ merchandise provider the past five seasons, voluntarily agreed to the move to Chapter 7 on Sept. 3, according to documents filed in federal bankruptcy court in Denver. A Chapter 7 filing usually leads to liquidation.

The Bobcats are now running the team store themselves, confirmed Fred Whitfield, the club’s president and chief operating officer, but have not ruled out hiring a third party.

In an agreement filed in court Aug. 11, the Bobcats agreed to pay XP Events $90,000 to buy the remaining team store inventory, furniture, fixtures and equipment in exchange for XP’s exit from a contract that had four years remaining. XP Events owed the Bobcats $391,114, according to the original Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last Sept. 30. The court had not approved the deal as of last week, and Whitfield declined to comment on it until the issue is resolved in court.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.
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