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Volume 20 No. 46
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Mets aim to ‘reinvent the show’ with new Citi Field boards

Without a championship since 1986, New York Mets fans have been grumbling almost that long about the team’s unwillingness to pay for pricey free agents, particularly relative to their Bronx brethren. However, Mets aficionados can’t complain about what the team is spending to update their home park.

The latest addition to what will be more than $5 million in offseason upgrades at 6-year-old Citi Field is a new center-field scoreboard from Daktronics. The new HD-13 board will be 5,670 square feet, more than 60 percent larger than the original. A 1.5 million-pixel board will allow multiple split screens, improved clarity and animation, and provide better overall pictures in direct sunlight.

A new center-field scoreboard is among the $5 million in offseason upgrades at Citi Field.
“This is going to allow us to reinvent the show across all three of our main boards,” said Lou DePaoli, the team’s chief revenue officer, adding that some static signage adjacent to the scoreboard was being removed. “You say less is more. We say more impactful for our partners,” he said with a laugh.

Installation will start later this month. Opening Day at Citi Field is April 13.

Also being added is more LED ribbon signage, 234-by-5 feet, replacing some static ad boards in left field, along with an adjacent “K board” to track strikeouts. With the additions, total LED signage in Citi Field will grow from 13,500 square feet to 17,000 square feet. The Mets also are moving in Citi Field’s right-center-field wall by 10 feet.
We know fans of the team are still dreaming about a 40-home-run outfielder and a 50-save closer, but increased ad inventory could surely help pay for some of those on-field additions.

> NO FANTASY LEAGUE: As the short-term fantasy players like DraftKings, FanDuel and DailyMVP have recently been spending money furiously on sports media, along with league and team sponsorship deals across pro sports, we’ve been waiting to see what the NFL would get for its league rights in the developing category. We’ve been advised that our wait will continue.

“On a league level, we are not doing that,” said Renie Anderson, NFL senior vice president, sponsorship and partnership management. NFL teams were permitted to sell daily fantasy deals as of last fall. However, sources tell us that the commissioner is indifferent at best when it comes to a short-term fantasy sponsorship involving league rights and that there is mixed opinion among NFL owners regarding the matter.

So what if a daily fantasy brand wants to purchase a Super Bowl ad? We weren’t able to get an answer to that question by press time. However, we note with considerable interest that NBC, which has broadcast rights to Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, holds an equity stake in FanDuel, through NBC Sports Ventures.

> COMINGS & GOINGS: Sharon Byers, senior vice president, sports and entertainment marketing partnerships, is leaving Coca-Cola after 28 years. Her official last day is March 15, and the departure of Coke’s sports and entertainment marketing chief comes as the beverage company is cutting a minimum of 1,600 workers, including 500 at its Atlanta headquarters. The layoffs are part of a $3 billion cost-cutting program announced by Coke in October. … Paul Alexander, Liberty Mutual Insurance executive vice president and chief communications officer, left the Boston-based insurer unexpectedly last month after six years. Several industry sources noted that Alexander’s departure comes as Liberty Mutual has been decentralizing marketing authority to where its individual business units now have more autonomy. During his tenure, Alexander took the insurer from an undistinguished sponsorship portfolio to one that included some of the biggest properties in sports: namely a U.S. Olympic Committee deal and a FIFA World Cup sponsorship. No word on whether the top-shelf sponsorship strategy will continue. Liberty Mutual is signed with the USOC through the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. As for Alexander, given his résumé, there was industry speculation that he might find a home with the committee seeking a 2024 Boston Summer Olympic Games bid. He could not be reached for comment. … Tim Prukop joins live event/venue technology specialist VenueNext as chief revenue officer, based in Santa Clara, Calif. Prukop was most recently vice president of sales, North American sports, at LiveU Inc.

Terry Lefton can be reached at