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Product Categories: LED Video Assets, Scoring and Signage, Broadcast Control Room, IPTV, Audio, Infrastructure Cabling.
August 27, 2012
BLUE JACKETS: NEW SCOREBOARD USHERS IN NEW ERA
Nationwide Arena opened 12 years ago next week, which means the pride and joy of the Arena District is almost a teenager. The time has come for a little bling-bling in the home of the Blue Jackets.
Today, a tractor-trailer will pull slowly onto the arena floor carrying the “mother lode” pieces of the crown jewel in this summer’s $6.4 million renovation project: a state-of-the-art, high-definition scoreboard that dwarfs the old model in both size and capability.
“There’s going to be a huge ‘Wow!’ factor,” said Blue Jackets director of game operations Derek Dawley. “I can’t wait to see the look on people’s faces when they experience this for the first time.”
It will be hard to miss, although a potential NHL lockout could delay its unveiling.
The new scoreboard, built by Brookings, S.D.-based Daktronics, will have 2,630 square feet of viewing space vs. the old one’s 576 square feet, a 357 percent increase. The main board on each of the four sides will be 25 feet wide and 15.5 feet high (387.5 square feet) vs. the old 16-by-9 (144 square feet).
It’s all in high-definition, too, which — like electric cars and iPods — wasn’t available when Nationwide was being built in the late 1990s.
The “wow” won’t end with the main scoreboard, whose formal name is the Dispatch Media Center. The “ribbon” boards that wrap around the rink will be lengthened and upgraded to high-definition, allowing Dawley and his staff to provide real-time information to fans, such as which players are on the ice and updated statistics for each player.
“We want it to be information and entertainment,” Dawley said. “It should all be right there.”
The party towers on the west side of the rink will be fitted with high-definition boards, to be used mostly for in-game entertainment (think Kiss Cam) and advertising.
After years of fans’ complaints abound the sound system — it was deafening in the upper bowl, and hard to hear in the lower bowl — the speaker system will be upgraded to “wash” the entire arena with a balanced level of audio.
The project is to be completed Sept. 15, one week before Blue Jackets training camp is scheduled to open.
“The scoreboard that came with the arena was great at the time, and it served us well,” said Bill Jennison, executive director of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, which bought the arena in February. “But this brings the building up-to-date in a very dramatic way.”
The authority spent nearly all of a $7 million capital-improvements fund to upgrade Nationwide. The new scoreboard required a bigger control room and significant technical upgrades. Of the $5.86 million spent on the scoreboard, roughly $2.5 million was for the devices to control it.
Other projects this summer also were funded by the authority’s capital-improvements fund; they included new dasher boards and glass around the rink ($190,000) and upgrades to the ice plant ($39,495). Within two years, all the seats in Nationwide will be replaced, Jennison said.
But the star of the show is the scoreboard.
The Ottawa Senators upgraded their scoreboard last season in Scotiabank Place from one of the smallest in the league — the one in Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena now holds that distinction — to a board that’s not quite as big as what the Blue Jackets are getting.
“It’s pretty safe to say it changed the whole experience for people,” said Bruce Garrioch, who covers the Senators for the Ottawa Sun. “The scoreboard here before was pretty embarrassing, really. You didn’t look at the scoreboard for replays because you couldn’t see anything.
“Now, I think people sometimes catch themselves watching the board instead of watching the play.”
The Senators installed their board in advance of hosting the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. The Blue Jackets are set to host the 2013 NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 27, but Jennison insisted that didn’t spark the projects.
“It will help us show off the building to the rest of the league,” Jennison said. “But this is something we needed to do — and were going to do — either way.
“Our fans deserve it. People who have been to most of the NHL rinks all say Nationwide is one of the best in the NHL. It’s our job to keep it that way.”