Ben Margot, Associated Press
Mike Lawson affixes a green panel over upper deck seats at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. Fusion Imaging of Kaysville created the vinyl mesh panels.

A Kaysville company this spring helped the Oakland Athletics baseball team with a little home improvement.

Actually, some big home improvement.

Fusion Imaging printed 55 vinyl mesh panels to cover all the upper-deck sections of McAfee Coliseum as the Athletics try to increase the value of their tickets by shrinking the stadium's capacity to the smallest in Major League Baseball. The mostly green panels, each weighing about 250 pounds, cover a total of about 134,000 square feet.

The 70-employee company was formed early last year through a combination of ProGrafix International and Impact Imaging. Their notable projects include the "cityscape" building wraps in Salt Lake City for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and Super Bowl event signage.

"This one is a good size," said Wayne Boydstun, Fusion's chief operating officer. "The cityscape involved over 500,000 square feet, but this is still a good project."

Fusion's panels in Oakland feature "Home of the Oakland Athletics" in huge lettering behind home plate. A's logos also are included, as are markers showing franchise world championship years. On "Mount Davis" — a derisive nickname for a huge block of outfield seats added to accommodate football's Oakland Raiders, owned by Al Davis — Fusion's panels sport an underlined script "Athletics" over three sections, plus symbols honoring Athletics players whose uniform numbers have been retired.

The coverings over about 10,000 seats were installed by Images Outdoor and leave McAfee with a baseball capacity of 34,179. Team President Michael Crowley has said it will create "a more intimate ballpark atmosphere."

Boydstun said the process of designing and creating the panels took several months, in part because of city and stadium ownership approvals that needed to be secured. Printing and fabricating took about three weeks, and installation began while the printing was in process.

"We can pull them down. We made this so it was very simplified," Boydstun said. "It's able to handle the weather and the wind, but at the same time, if they grew out of it and needed to take down a couple of sections, we can take it down easily, and we could put it back up again if they wanted."

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the A's ponied up $400,000 for the coverings, which can be removed or reinstalled in one day for Raiders games. It also quoted Crowley saying the panels might eventually carry advertising.

"I think what they were trying to do initially was get the 'Oakland A's' across, and they may expand that into advertising, but a lot of what can be done is bound by city ordinances and things like that," Boydstun said. "But they are looking at that. They've used their dollars to get the stadium cleaned up — it's a beautiful job, wonderful-looking — but they have been approaching the idea of selling space on it because they're getting such national attention about it."

The Athletics are the first major league team to cover an entire upper deck. The Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres used tarps to cover major outfield sections of the upper decks in their former stadiums. The Florida Marlins have covered much of the upper deck of their Miami park. The Minnesota Twins have hung curtains from the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis to hide some outfield sections that rarely sell. The St. Louis Cardinals installed a huge scoreboard in the outfield upper deck of old Busch Stadium. And several teams have covered a few sections of distant, often-unsold "nosebleed" seats.

Locally, Real Salt Lake, the Utah Blaze and Weber State University have covered sections, often for advertising panels.

Boydstun said he has been contacted by other major league teams — he declined to say which ones — about making panels for them, including enough to close up entire upper decks. The company is ready to accommodate with whatever images the teams want — even players, like the footballers adorning the exterior of LaVell Edwards Stadium or basketball's LeBron James on a Fusion building wrap.

"Anything you can think of, we can produce," he said. "There are no bounds anymore."


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