In early April, the official christening of Great American Ball Park, the new home for major league baseball's Cincinnati Reds, was a chance to showcase the unique features and fine details of the new $290 million ballpark. One of the more popular features is a recreation of a paddleboat, complete with 20-25'-high smoke stacks, that stands just beyond right-center field. The paddleboat's smokestacks, officially known as the Pepsi Power Stacks, erupt in a celebration of vapor after home runs, outstanding plays, and victories. The special effect has elicited enthusiastic reviews from fans.
Capital Manufacturing was contracted to develop the new "home run effect" and contacted Entertainment Services Group Inc. (ESG) of Allentown, PA, to provide the celebratory blasts of smoke. ESG supplied a Jem Roadie X-Stream, a powerful high-output smoke machine, along with a Martin LightJockey control system. Installation of the Roadie was completed by Capital.
Bob Schermerhorn, vice president of sales at ESG, worked together with Martin's Southeast regional sales manager Jamey Brock. Schermerhorn was responsible for programming and acted as a consultant on the project. He commented, "We have been working with Capital Manufacturing for some time now. When Brandon Bennett, Capital's project manager, called and explained the project to me, I told him we had the perfect solution for the project. The Roadie X-Stream was the only choice.
"When it came to control the system, it had to be able to simultaneously execute a number of different looks for a pre-determined amount of time, and be simple to operate," Schermerhorn continues. "Martin once again had the perfect solution, LightJockey. And, by integrating the touch screen into the system, control could not get any easier." The PC-based LightJockey controller operated via a touchscreen controls the keyed output from the Roadie, releasing bursts of smoke when prompted. Smoke is channeled to fill each stack and then assisted out by a blower. Once the Roadie finishes emitting smoke, the blower continues until the smoke is cleared from the stacks.
The LightJockey also controls LED illumination on the smokestacks, as well as LED and neon illumination on each arm of the paddlewheel, a chasing neon effect that makes the wheel look as if it is rotating. As an added effect, a blanket of mist, also LightJockey controlled, emanates from the deck of the paddleboat onto the crowd below.
Photos courtesy Great American Ballpark