Sports Fans View Stadium Renovations in Real-Time

The ability to remotely view video of building renovations via an Internet-connected security camera has become a popular innovation in the construction industry. When that renovation involves the home stadium of a major sports team, the use of such technology provides fans with the ability to see the progress unfold brick-by-brick.

Both the National Football League’s (NFL) Kansas City Chiefs and Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Kansas City Royals are currently renovating their stadiums. Faced with the challenge of finding the best video camera with convenient IP connectivity and the ability to capture detailed video images of the construction from a distance, both teams chose the VB-C50iR pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) Network Video Solutions (NVS) camera from Canon U.S.A. Inc.

“This is the fourth stadium project that we’ve worked on, and we’ve used Canon NVS cameras each time,” explains Devin Mudd, president of Digital Planet, a Detroit-based information and support technology company that installed two Canon VB-C50iR cameras in weatherproof domes to monitor the Royals’ renovations to Kaufmann Stadium. “The camera model that we used on our first stadium project required an external server, but these Canon VB-C50iR cameras have everything built into the head of the unit itself, which is quite amazing. It was a natural fit for us to use these cameras once again; they have been great for us.”

Prior experience with Canon security cameras was also a factor for the Chiefs, who have installed one VB-C50iR in a weatherproof dome to capture the exterior renovations to Arrowhead Stadium. “One of our sister companies has been using a Canon camera at their facility for five years, and it is still running strong,” says Rich McOsker, director of Information Systems for the Chiefs. “Between their experience with Canon’s security cameras and my own experience with Canon’s still cameras, it was an easy decision for me, because I knew the optical quality would be top rate.”

The cameras, purchased from online retailer, include such features as an advanced 26X Genuine Canon optical zoom lens, a 12X digital zoom, a plus/minus of 170° of pan, plus 10°/minus 90° of tilt, and a 340K effective pixel CCD that delivers crisp 640×480-pixel resolution video with up to 30 frame-per-second quality. This — together with the cameras’ ability to transmit high-quality video through the Internet or a LAN connection for viewing by multiple clients — has made these p/t/z cameras a leading choice for Web video origination.

Ease-of-installation is one of the reasons Mudd continues to use Canon NVS p/t/z cameras. “What is most attractive about the cameras to us is that we can simply mount it anywhere, plug in a simple Ethernet connection, give it some power and they are good to go,” he says. “These cameras are mounted on light poles 20 stories up, so there is no way that we can have people climbing up there every day for maintenance. These Canon cameras are easy, reliable and durable enough to last through the harsh winters of Kansas City.”

According to Mudd, the public’s response has been phenomenal. “We are seeing upwards of 500 unique visitors a day on the Royals’ Web site,” he remarked. “Users can take control of the camera or use the preset views to see how the renovations are progressing. We are also compiling a time-lapse photo montage of the project, so every 15 to 30 minutes we take back control of the camera to take still images from the preset views. It has been marketed well in the local media, and the fans are coming to the site in droves to see it.”

The Chiefs are also taking still pictures at pre-set intervals for a time-lapse montage, and the clarity of those images impressed McOsker. “We’re taking two shots of the stadium, and another shot of the construction of our new office building a quarter-mile away,” he says. “Even from that distance, I can count the cinder blocks on the fire escape shaft! On a scale from one to ten, the Canon VB-C50iR is definitely a ten.”

In Mudd’s opinion, the trend of providing the public with Web video access to stadium renovations shows no sign of slowing down. Pleasing the fans is not the only reason he believes franchises will continue to monitor projects via IP video cameras.

“I think the ballparks and the organizations in general are really leaning towards this because they can get an overall view of how the project is going,” he concludes. “The owners and the construction management firms really like the fact that they can get a granular view of what is going on. We have had to use these cameras several times for anti-theft purposes, where we’ve recorded images and had to be able to go back and take a look at certain scenes. These Canon NVS cameras are not just for fun and the fans; they serve another purpose as well, and do it fantastically.”

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