The Pittsburgh Pirates aren't the only team at PNC Park wracking up the wins. The Scoreboard Team, led by Matt Zidik, are raking in industry accolades too. Pittsburgh Pirates Scoreboard Team Wins Multiple Awards at IDEA Conference | The Sports Daily

Pittsburgh Pirates Scoreboard Team Wins Multiple Awards at IDEA Conference

Pittsburgh Pirates Scoreboard Team Wins Multiple Awards at IDEA Conference

Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates Scoreboard Team Wins Multiple Awards at IDEA Conference

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The Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t the only team at PNC Park wracking up the wins. The Scoreboard Team, led by Matt Zidik, are raking in industry accolades too.

If you’ve visited any of the other 29 major league baseball parks, chances are you’ve noticed something a bit “off” during a game. Unlike the Pittsburgh Pirates’ home PNC Park, they probably aren’t serving Rivertowne’s Hala Kahliki pineapple ale in the concession stands and they definitely don’t have pierogies racing around the warning track. But there’s something else. The scoreboard is just showing, well, the score. And right field is noticeably absent any celebratory graphics after a fantastic catch. What gives?

People attending Pittsburgh Pirates games at PNC Park are accustomed to a “show” from the moment the gates open until they filter out post-game, with the sounds of “A New Pirate Generation” by the Buzz Poets ringing in their heads. The baseball part of the show, well that’s all the responsibility of Clint Hurdle and company. But the rest of it? The “That’s Amore” segment, the “Hoist the Colours” rally video, the Little J-Hay Show – that’s all the responsibility of the Scoreboard Team led by Manager, Game Presentation Matt Zidik.

Recently Zidik’s team received accolades for their work in the form of two first place 2017 Golden Matrix Awards at the Information Display and Entertainment Association conference in Philadelphia. The ceremony, held during baseball’s All-Star Break, was the culmination of a three-day conference. It honored the best of the best of NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and college and university sports scoreboard and in-arena entertainment.

Super Bucco “Won”

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ team won in the Best Interactive Feature and Best Supporting Displays categories. Both of the awards largely involved a new to 2017 feature at PNC Park – the digital “out of town” scoreboard in right field.

The Best Interactive Feature award was for the new Super Bucco Run game the Pirates debuted this season.

“When we decided we were putting in that display, I thought it was a cool opportunity, given the location – right at ground level,” Zidik said. “I really wanted to do something very interactive with that display, something unique.”

He found it with Super Bucco Run, a game that puts a fan-volunteer inside a Mario Brothers game during the fifth inning. Zidik was inspired to create the feature after seeing the Mario Run app on his phone.

“It just clicked. I thought, that’s the interactive thing we could do on that right field board,” he said.

Super Bucco Run was competing for the Golden Matrix award against another Pirates in-game feature, the Island Maze, as well as a submission by the Atlanta Hawks.

The Nintendo-inspired feature seemed to be the Belle of the Ball so to speak, said Zidik. “It has broad appeal. I couldn’t walk two feet at the conference without someone asking me about Super Bucco Run,” he added.

Honoring Innovation

The other award received by the Pirates scoreboard team was for Best Supporting Displays. Zidik described that category as recognition of all of the things done in an in-game “show” that doesn’t incorporate the main scoreboard. Until this year, the NBA has dominated the category, he said. In fact, the other finalists in the category this year were the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets.

The Pittsburgh Pirates installed a LED scoreboard to replace the old Out of Town scoreboard in 2017. The innovative ways the Scoreboard Team incorporated this new feature into in-game presentations was honored at the IDEA Conference.

The NBA, Zidik said, has incredibly impressive game presentations, in part because they have more screens and surfaces to work with. But what the Pirates team lacks in available screens, they make up for with inventiveness.

“What I’ve come to learn from going to this conference through the years is what people appreciate most is innovation,” he said. “In my opinion, the Miami Heat still probably were the best, but we won because we showed something nobody had ever seen before.”

A Winning History

This isn’t the first year that the Pirates Scoreboard Team has walked away Golden Matrix Award winners. In fact, last year they took home the top two honors: Best Video Display – baseball (which pitted them against all other teams in MLB) and Best Video Display (which saw them competing against the best video display winners in the NFL, NBA and NHL). They were a finalist for best in baseball again this year, but didn’t take home the prize.

“It’s hard to get to the top, but even harder to stay there,” Zidik added.

“It Truly Is a Group Effort”

(From left) Paul Denillo, Matt Zidik, Jon Cofer and Marty Corbett represented the Pirates Scoreboard Team at the IDEA Conference in Philadelphia. The team took home two of the four awards they were nominated for that night. Photo ctsy Matt Zidik

Zidik is quick to recognize that he’s just the conductor for an orchestra of over 25 people who make in-game magic at PNC Park 80+ games a year.

“It’s just about finding the right assets and I think I have a great team,” he said.

His team includes three full-time assistants, all of whom accompanied him to the IDEA Conference this year, as well as a part-time production person and the game-day staff. That group is comprised of everyone in the control room, the camera men (including recent Hidden Hero Carl Truss), Public Address Announcer Tim DeBacco and In-Game Host Joe Klimchak (a 2016 Hidden Hero).

Experience plays a big role in the excellence Zidik’s team strives for in their crafts, he said.

Like the baseball players who are the stars of his show each home game, Zidik and two of his assistants rose through the ranks of minor league baseball. That’s very helpful when taking on a roll in the major leagues, he said.

“In minor league baseball you have a much smaller staff…every person has so much  more responsibility because there’s just not enough people to do everything,” he said. “So if you come from minor league baseball, I know you know how to do a lot and you’re a well-rounded individual.”

In addition, most of the game-day staff works at the other sports venues around Pittsburgh, covering the Penguins, Steelers and Pitt sports, which gives them excellent experience, he added.

“They truly are family in every respect of the word. They are dedicated and they are wonderful people above anything else,” Zidik added.

The Pittsburgh Pirates – A Culture of Entertainment

While Zidik deserves credit for creating a culture that values innovation and fan interaction among his scoreboard team, he said that the idea is instilled at the highest levels of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

“Game presentation and entertainment is a big focus of ours,” he said. “I think that starts from the very top from [President] Frank Coonelly to my more immediate bosses [Senior Director, Marketing and Special Events] Brian Chiera and [Director, Special Events and Game Presentation] Chris Serkoch. That’s just our company philosophy. We have a very big focus on bringing fans entertainment and really emphasizing the entertainment value of what we do.”

 

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