Described as the world's first self-contained, rear-projection video scoreboard hung in the center of an arena, ArenaVision has the capability of showing live action, replays, slow motion, freeze frames and graphics.
"You have to see it to believe it," said Aaron Siegel, managing partner of Spectacor Management and the man responsible for the ArenaVision concept.
For Siegel, the introduction of ArenaVision ends a five-year project that took him around the world to discover the technology that would provide fans with one of the comforts of home - namely, the instant replay.
"Once we focused on the concept we intended to pursue, it was a matter of
finding the right technology to meet our objective," Siegel said yesterday. ''We looked at technology in Japan and England and looked at ideas used in stadiums.
"But bold matrix lighting, like on Phanavision, wasn't the answer, because they use rows of light bulbs to make a picture. In an arena setting, the best seat is 60 feet from the screen, and we'd have to be sure we gave a top- quality picture to those patrons."
Siegel said that consideration briefly had been given to the technique used at the Capital Centre in Landover, Md., where four projectors beam pictures
from the corners of the arena to four screens on a scoreboard in the middle.
"Throwing a beam of light that far means a lot of distortion," he said. ''In order to put something like that in the Spectrum, it would mean killing seats. Also, the screen would have to be in a fixed position, meaning we'd be unable to move the scoreboard up and down depending on the event."
Siegel said he finally developed an idea for a television picture projected on a large screen from the rear, with the projector located inside the scoreboard. He said such a concept meant a clearer, sharper picture.
Siegel then contacted General Electric's Production Display Products Operation in Syracuse, N.Y., which developed the Talaria projectors for ArenaVision. GE initially presented its idea in August 1985, and a final demonstration was perfected nine months later.
"His (Siegel's) first criterion was to make sure people could see a clear picture," said Maureen Hanson, GE's marketing-services manager. "The Talaria projector has high-intensity xenon lights, each of which produces 2,000 lumens, whereas an average projector produces 400. The second criterion was true video."
After he was satisfied with GE's proposal, Siegel went to the American Sign and Indicator Corp. of Spokane, Wash., to work on the design for the new scoreboard, and construction commenced in July and lasted one month. Testing of the ArenaVision board has been conducted since it was completed.
The projection will be run from a television studio at the top of the Spectrum, near the hockey broadcast booth.
Glimpses of what ArenaVision can do will be on display during the Flyers' three home exhibition games and other events at the Spectrum over the next three weeks. The board makes its official world premiere on Oct. 9, when the Flyers play host to Edmonton in their season opener.
A Flyers spokesman said the hockey club had agreed to show live action on the screen, in addition to replays and other features. Siegel said the 76ers were debating the idea of showing live action during their games, but officials of the team could not be reached for comment.
Siegel said that Spectacor Management owns the rights to ArenaVision and will embark on a marketing campaign. Arena officials, as well as those from some NBA and NHL teams, will be offered a demonstration tonight.
The asking price? Siegel said it would be $1.75 million for a four-sided board and $2.5 million for a six-sided board.
NOTES. The Black team won two games yesterday, the first day of the Clarke Cup intrasquad scrimmages at the Flyers' training camp at the Coliseum in Voorhees. Don Nachbaur posted a hat trick in a 6-3 victory over the Orange in the afternoon, after having scored a goal in a 6-4 win over the Blue in the morning. Brian Propp had a goal in each game for the Black. Peter Zezel scored two goals for the Orange in its 4-3 morning loss to the White. In the day's final matchup, the Blue's 8-5 win over the White, Ross Fitzpatrick, Derrick Smith and Dave Poulin each scored two goals for the Blue. Dave Brown scored a pair of goals for the White and engaged the Blue's Steve Martinson in two fights. . . . Coach Mike Keenan said that winger Ilkka Sinisalo would miss two to three days with a back injury suffered while running over the weekend. . . . The Flyers said that intrasquad scrimmages today and tomorrow would be
closed to the public at the request of the Coliseum's management. Thursday's rookie scrimmage against the Washington Capitals at the Coliseum will be open to the public, with a $3 admission charge.