Fifth Third Ballpark to get Facelift for 2012

The West Michigan Whitecaps have extended their relationship with Fifth Third Bank which include the naming rights to the ballpark.

The original deal made with Old Kent Bank (which made Old Kent Park) in 1994, was continued after Fifth Third Bank merged with Old Kent, and the stadium was re-named in 2001. New to 2012, will be a new state-of-the-art video board, and new manually operated score board, a new electronic sign along US 131, and a new sign to greet fans at the main entrance of the stadium. The new video board will measure 28 feet tall and 55 feet wide. The high-resolution screen is 25% larger than the size of the existing scoreboard and advertising panels combined. The new manual scoreboard will be 24 feet tall by 39 feet wide, and will replace the video board currently in left field. The manual scoreboard will have Whitecaps staff stationed behind it to update the score, and will offer and old-time traditional baseball feel that will offset the high-tech new video board.

“I think that it just makes sense, as we continue to add new high-tech fan amenities like the new video board, that we also stay connected to the traditions of baseball,” stated Lew Chamberlain, who runs the ‘Caps organization. “I’ve always loved the old manual boards like the one at Fenway Park and this old-style scoreboard will play homage to baseball history. It will be great fun for the fans.”

The Fifth Third Ballpark logo will be updated to reflect Fifth Third Bank’s new logo and color scheme, and will replace the existing one along the highway, US 131. Other upgrades to the ballpark include installation of flat screen TV’s throughout the concourse that display the Midwest League standing, league leaders, and player of the week information. This will replace the A-Frame signs around the concourse, and create more room for the fans. There will also be state-of-the-art equipment upgrades in the production room to go with the new video board. These include a wireless camera system for fan shots and close-up baseball action. Posted are some artist renditions of what the changes will look like.

Lots of new stuff to look forward to in 2012. The new schedule is already out, and I’m starting to plan what games to attend. We should be able to get there in April, weather permitting.

Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps