PHILADELPHIA — A steady stream will help Lehigh Valley IronPig fans stay entertained and learn about prostate health while answering nature’s call at the ballpark.
The Phillies’ AAA-minor league team will introduce the first “urinal gaming system” when the season kicks off at Coca-Cola Park next week.
Screens installed above urinals will display the game, which is a downhill snowmobile competition. The user’s flow controls the virtual snowmobiler as he tries to hit penguins on the route — directing the stream left or right will move the driver in that direction.
“It’s just like a joystick on a video game,” said Brian Downs, Director of Media Relations for Lehigh Valley Health Network. The health system will be advertising on the game’s screens.
Downs says his team had a few laughs when they were approached to be a sponsor, but quickly decided it would be a great way to educate men about prostate health.
“You kind of have a built-in audience and an opportunity to create an awareness about the importance of prostate health,” he said.
The game screens will display information from the health system when the urinal is not in use. When a guy walks up to use the urinal, the information will go away and switch into game mode.
“There’s a lot of ways you can market different programs and healthcare. In this case, it made a lot of sense,” Downs says.
In the U.S., prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men, behind lung cancer. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.
IronPigs spokesman Jon Schaeffer says the "pee" game will be installed in four men’s rooms inside the 10,100-seat ballpark — one per restroom. Anyone using the urinal can play the game and it doesn't cost extra.
Players will be given a score at the end of their game. The high scorers will be displayed in real-time on video boards inside the ballpark. Players will also be ranked and recognized on the team's website.
"Our fans are always looking for the next big thing and these 'X-Stream Games' are another example of our commitment to providing an unparalleled entertainment experience in all aspects of Coca-Cola Park, including our restrooms," IronPigs General Manager Kurt Landes said in a statement.
The urinal gaming system is already in use at bars in the United Kingdom, but has never been installed in a sporting venue.
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The system will debut with the downhill snowmobile game, but that six to 12 others will be swapped in as the season progresses. Schaeffer says the team has gotten a huge response from fans so far — even before the system's debut.
“The feedback that we’ve gotten, it’s been overwhelmingly positive," Schaeffer said. He added that the team's Twitter feed has been blowing up over the announcement.
Aside from the fun, Downs hopes the system will remind men to get a checkup and hopefully save lives by catching cancer early.
“The idea is that you see the health network and remember to talk with your doctor, especially if you have issues. And at least keep it in the back of their mind.”