Big-screen envy

December 06, 2006

Any family headed to the nearest big-box store to replace an aging television can surely relate to the current standoff between the Maryland Stadium Authority and the Baltimore Orioles over how best to replace the 14-year-old Sony JumboTron at Camden Yards. The MSA (let's call the agency Mom) wants that perfectly nice Mitsubishi DiamondVision. Dad (Orioles owner Peter Angelos) wants something bigger and more cutting-edge with all the cool stuff like high-definition technology.

The only difference is that this particular couple has lawyers. So if Mom goes through with her purchase later this week, Dad has promised to take her to arbitration. Now that's a conversation you don't hear in the aisles of your typical electronics store everyday.

As usual with family tiffs, the best policy is for both sides to compromise. The MSA has no business buying such an important stadium amenity without the Orioles' explicit approval. Scoreboards are a major part of the ballpark experience. It also makes sense to consider updating the entire display and not just the big-screen TV as Mr. Angelos apparently wants to do.

But there also ought to be limits on this audiovisual extravaganza. The stadium authority may be legally obligated to maintain the scoreboard to within the top quartile of ballparks but, unless the Orioles are willing to share the cost, that doesn't mean it has to be the envy of all the other billionaire club owners. Fortunately, the Orioles have expressed some interest in helping foot the bill (and paying to keep the JumboTron working until a more attractive replacement is found). That's a step in the right direction - if the club is serious about coming up with the cash.

No doubt Baltimore baseball fans will appreciate a high-tech scoreboard, but they'd probably enjoy a winning baseball team even more, and that's where Mr. Angelos ought to devote his attention. Watching the Orioles get pummeled by the Yankees is no more enjoyable on a high definition LCD TV than on an old black-and-white Sylvania. That's something we bet the whole family can agree on.

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