One of Utah's most-watched television stations has no channel number or call letters and is received in only one "home" - the new Delta Center arena on South Temple and 300 West.
But when all 19,500 members of the Delta Center "family" are gathered for a Utah Jazz (or Salt Lake Golden Eagles) game, this station's ratings soar.The "station," of course, is the closed-circuit feed that is created by Video West under contract with the Jazz and Eagles and is displayed on the giant Sony JumboTron scoreboard that hovers 45 feet above center court.
So popular has the JumboTron become since the Delta Center opened last fall that fans who used to watch games sans JumboTron in the Salt Palace's Acord Arena can't imagine how they ever got along without it.
"The Jumbo really adds to the home court advantage," one fan needlessly pointed out at a recent Jazz vs. Milwaukee Bucks game. His comment, shouted in my ear over the roar of the crowd, was made during a replay of a thunderous dunk by Jazz forward Theodore "Blue" Edwards.
Ironically, the JumboTron replay of Edwards' slam drew a bigger reaction from the capacity crowd than the original "live" version. For many fans, particularly those seated higher up in the arena, the eye-level, larger-than-life Sony carries more impact than the real thing on the floor below.
Randy Rigby, Utah Jazz vice president of broadcasting, and Jim Yorgason, Video West's vice president of sales and production seervices, my hosts for a behind-the-scenes tour of the closed-circuit TV operations, agree that Jumbo is the real "sixth man" for the Jazz.
They think of it as an "electronic cheer-leader" that also runs instant replays, scores, game innformation, concert action, advertising, assorted graphic displays and, most important of all as far as the fans are concerned, vignettes of themselves and their kids live and in color on the big screen.
"Getting to see myself on the JumboTron was the highlight of the season," said one exultant fan.
Perhaps the only people who don't like the JumboTron are the referees, who must bear the brunt of fan disapproval when an instant replay of a "bad call" (in the Delta Center, all calls against the Jazz are bad calls) triggers a chorus of boos that goes beyond mere sound...more like the ear pressure a scuba diver experiences.
"You can incite a riot," shouted a Yorgason followinng an instant replay of a Jazz foul that brought howls of outrage from the partisan crowd. "The JumboTron creates tremendous electricity in the arena."
Video West, facilities producer of the JumboTron "show," is a division of Bonneville International Corp., parent company of KSL radio and television in Salt Lake city. Video West operates from offices in KSL's Broadcast House in the Triad Center a half-block north of the Delta Center.
During construction of the $66 millionn Delta Center, fiber optic cables were laid in a conduit under South Temple street connecting Video West with the Center. Rigby, of the Jazz, said the organization's relationship with Video West has been a long-term and very successful one.
"Bonneville Internationnal and Video West's long-standing broadcast and production relationship with the Utah Jazz was a strong impetus behind signing the JumboTron agreement," said Rigby. "Video West's on-air broadcasts from the Salt Palace were always superb and they bring state-of-the-art technology.
"Since we already had the equipment, it was a natural," said Yorgason. "There were those who said it wouldn't work, but it works beautifully."
Some 12-15 Video West people, including interns from Highland High School, are usually involved in the closed-circuit broadacast for a game. There are normally two cameras covering the game: one hand-held on the floor and another up high for wide shots.
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