Redskins make some jumbo-sized improvements

By Dan Steinberg
Wednesday, January 20, 2010; D02

This week, the Washington Redskins began mailing letters to their general admission and premium club seat ticket holders, informing them of significant changes to the in-game video experience, headlined by two high-definition video boards 30 feet tall by 100 feet wide, one in each end zone.

Now, there are two ways fans could react to this news. (And no, drunken indifference is not an option. It's the offseason.) Some fans will say it's about time, that after living with a scoreboard nicknamed The Lite Brite and a video board that seemed smaller than Albert Haynesworth, the franchise owed season ticket holders this much and more. They'll talk about the lack of out-of-town scores and in-game stats, and the 28-by-28-foot Jumbotron that hadn't been updated in 13 years, and the high-def screens in Philadelphia and Baltimore, and the in-game experience at FedEx that Sports Illustrated rated 28th out of 32 teams in 2007.

But because I'm an optimist, I'm taking a different point of view. Redskins fans this fall were as angry as local observers could remember. They demanded change. And for whatever reason, no matter how late the hour, some signs of change have arrived.

Fans wanted a general manager, and they got one in December. They wanted Daniel Snyder to take a step back, and while it's early, there are at least public nods in that direction. And they wanted the game-day experience to leave the 20th century; this is a first step.

So what does this letter announce? There will be the HD boards in both end zones, replacing the comically small scoreboards, the old Jumbotrons, and two end zone billboards. The big boards, which should be in place for the preseason, can be split into a variety of configurations; for example, displaying the same replay from different angles simultaneously or replays and stats at the same time. There will be 10 other new screens in the lower bowl, from the game clocks to the time clocks to the out-of-town scoreboard screens, which will also now display game stats and fantasy football stats.

"I think Dan Snyder's finally realizing that he doesn't have an endless supply of fans, so the product on the field has to be improved and the amenities have to be improved as well," said Mike Broderick, one of the franchise's most vocal critics during the past fall.

The big boards will compare in size quite favorably to other models in the close vicinity. Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field has two 27-by-96-foot screens. Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium has two 24-by-100-foot screens. Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium has a 31.5-by-77-foot screen.

Of course, that team in Dallas has some sort of 71-by-160 monstrosity, along with the pole dancers and the playoff losses and the place kicker that can't make clutch field goals, but they can keep all that.

Need a new jersey?

Speaking of game-day experience, the game-day experience at Caps games includes the sight of a whole lot of Alex Ovechkin sweaters. But with two of the most popular jerseys in town possibly rendered obsolete -- those of Gilbert Arenas and Clinton Portis -- I figured it's time for a second Caps sweater to rise to prominence. So, who are the candidates?

Nicklas Backstrom ranks second in jersey sales at the Caps' Ballston team store since September. Yet another snub for Mike Green.

Green is third, possibly because "52" isn't quite as slimming as "19." Semyon Varlamov is fourth, and Brooks Laich -- with strong anecdotal support from female fans -- is fifth. And yes, if you try to customize an "Arenas 0" Caps jersey online, it won't be permitted. Really.

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