Churchill Downs has announced plans to install a 15,224-square-foot (no, that’s not a typo) high definition LED video board along the backstretch of the track. The video board is 171-feet wide, will sit 80 feet above the ground, and will top out at a height of 170 feet. The weight of the board and supporting structure will top the scales at over 1,000,000 pounds. It will be able to withstand winds of 85 miles per hour.
Churchill Downs has teamed with Panasonic in the $12 million project to install the video board. It will be installed midway along the backstretch on the outside of the dirt track and provide a 170-degree viewing angle for fans in the clubhouse, grandstand, and infield. It will be visible to practically anyone opposite the backside of the historic track and maybe even to guests at nearby Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
"We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Churchill Downs to bring true 21st Century video technology to the 140th Kentucky Derby, the longest continuously conducted sporting event in the country," said Richard Ballard, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Panasonic Eco Solutions North America.
The video board will be the largest high definition video board currently standing in the world. To understand and visualize such a massive creation, Churchill Downs has put together some size comparisons of items the board will be bigger than: three NBA basketball courts, 2,200 46-inch flat screen TVs, or 320,000 Apple iPhone 5 screens.
The software technology used with the video board will provide for multiple split-screen presentations of video, images, data and leading edge live and recorded programming. The project also includes plans to add full-1080i fixed and mobile high definition cameras and a new audio system.
Installation of the project will begin in December and continue through the January to March break in which the track and stables are closed. Unveiling of the video board is set to occur when the track starts its spring meet with Opening Night Apr. 26, 2014.
"Since 2005 we have invested over $160 million in improving our fans' experience," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. "Along with our current $15 million Grandstand Terrace project we are investing over $27 million this year to make Churchill Downs not only the best venue for Thoroughbred racing's biggest events, the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, but one of the premier sports and entertainment venues anywhere in the world."
Illustration: Churchill Downs