Remove the SkyCam from NHL Arenas

This petition made change with 263 supporters!

This petition is intended to affect the removal of the Skycam from the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, as well as to inform the decision to remove the Skycam from other NHL arenas who also employ this new camera system.

Because hockey is a fast sport known for its constant motion and non-stop action, anything that obstructs a fan's view of the ice is generally discouraged at NHL games.  To wit:

  • An announcement is displayed on the in-arena video screen before every game warning fans not to enter or leave the seating area while the puck is in play, instead advising one to wait for a stoppage before moving to or from their seat.
  • There are signs at the entrance of all portals reinforcing this rule, and ushers are equipped with small "STOP" signs as well to keep fans from entering the seating areas during play on the ice to avoid obstructing the views of their fellow fans.

The Skycam is suspended on a computer controlled cable system which allows the camera to move on several axes.  The movement of the Skycam across the field of vision of fans who sit in the middle and upper tiers of seats at the Verizon Center is at best distracting and at worst obstructive.  

From the vantage point of those fans who sit in the upper sections along the north wall of Verizon Center, the Skycam is as large or larger than the players on the ice.  The Skycam blocks the view of the action on the ice, meaning that fans are likely to miss seeing faceoffs, shots, saves, hits, and all other aspects of the game.  For the fans who sit in the middle tier of Verizon Center along the north wall, the Skycam directly obstructs their view of the in-arena video screen, making it difficult to see what the screen is displaying

In addition to the obstruction directly caused by the Skycam, the cable system on which it navigates its path is its own issue.  When the Skycam is at either end of the ice rink the cables float in the field of vision of fans to the in-arena video screen, making it difficult to see the action being displayed.

For the fans who watch the game at home the experience is mixed, however there are enough negative reviews of the Skycam's ineffectiveness as a broadcast tool for hockey. To wit:

  • The Skycam is too far away from the players to read the numbers and names on their jerseys, causing confusion as to who is on the ice.
  • There is difficulty in tracking the movement of the puck.
  • The motion of the Skycam is unstable, causing nausea in fans who have issues with vertigo.
  • The switching of the TV view between Skycam and standard cameras makes for a jarring viewing experience.

The Skycam made its debut in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center early in the season as well, and the outpouring of negative reactions from Flyers fans reinforces how badly the Skycam performs for a dynamic sport like hockey:

"The reviews are in and literally everybody hates 'SkyCam' in NHL broadcasts"

The Skycam was introduced during a preseason game at Verizon Center and touted as being a device in its testing phase before being considered for permanent use there and in other venues.  It is hoped that there will be no permanent usage of the device.

Season ticket holders were not advised before renewing their accounts that their views would be obstructed by this new technology.  They were not given any recourse once they realized just how much their gaming experience would suffer from Skycam being there.  All pleas directed toward the Washington Capitals for the removal of Skycam have fallen on deaf ears.

We hope the NHL, NBC Sports, and Comcast will do the right thing.  It is time to remove Skycam permanently.  

UPDATE: The Capitals announced at the end of October that they would halt testing of the Skycam in the Verizon Center with the possibility of future tests and implementation still possible.  With enough support for this petition perhaps that will not happen.

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