Two of the most historic teams in college football will play under video boards that will not only help them remain in the national championship hunt, but will also help them recruit the next wave of tech-savvy young gridiron stars to their campuses.
For the University of Texas Longhorns, the new video board—which is fourth-largest in the NCAA—continues the tradition of being on the leading edge of technology as the school was one of the first to adopt LED several years ago, says Chris Mascatello, executive VP of technology sales and services at ANC.
For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, high-tech video boards are unchartered territory and a quest that didn’t come easily or quickly. With that said, the historic campus is now home to the largest 10 mm resoultion video board in all of college football.
“Everything they’re doing is about the best quality,” says ANC founder, president and CEO Jerry Cifarelli.
Hook ’Em, Horns!
The video board at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin was last upgraded about a decade ago, says director of game experience Jeremy Armstrong. With the new big board—and other auxiliary displays—Armstrong and his staff are “trying to tell the story and give fans the information they want.”
With a canvas that measures almost 135 feet wide and almost 56 feet high, there’s a lot of room to tell that story, which includes a lot of hardware with four college football national championships and 32 conference championships on the Texas Longhorns’ resume.
The information Texas Longhorns fans want runs from more replays, highlights and statistics about the team and the game, more out-of-town scores and marketing opportunities such as on-campus events or promotions tied to the team and university.
When the Texas Longhorns kick off the 2017 season Sept. 2 vs. Maryland, the Mitsubishi Diamond Vision video board will allow Armstrong and his gameday staff to pump up fans with animation, noise meters and other methods that are college campus staples.
“We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to help our fans enjoy their experience,” says Armstrong.
The new video board has also been used to help potential future Texas Longhorns see their names in large-font bold type on a high-tech screen as they watch highlights of past Texas greats on that very same display where they hope to spend their college football days, he says.
“We want to differentiate ourselves in any way we can,” says Armstrong. What a great way to help these students see their names larger than life.”
That doesn’t mean you’ll see anything too outlandish during Texas Longhorns games, where there’s still a “very traditional” element among the fan base, alumni and administration. The new video board, in fact, fits into the slot created for its 2006 predecessor.
Mascatello notes Texas’ main board is 16mm, while the ribbon displays are 20 mm. All told, the stadium will have more than 14,000 square feet of LED displays, with displays on the walls and in the field tunnels in addition to the in-stadium offerings.
The job represents “a major feather in the cap” for ANC as it continues to win work in the college football space, says Mascatello. It’s especially gratifying at a place like the University of Texas, which has a stadium that’s larger than some NFL facilities with room for more than 100,000 fans.
“When we make big upgrades like this, we want it to resonate with future fans, but also with those who’ve been with us for years,” says Armstrong. “We don’t want just bigger. We want better.”
The Simple Approach to Video Boards & College Football
Notre Dame’s move into the high-tech world of giant video boards took more than six years to become a reality, says Mike Bonner, executive producer of live events for Fighting Irish Media and Notre Dame athletics, who first saw the idea’s seed planted during a Notre Dame-Army football game at Yankee Stadium when he worked in the Bronx.
That experience—and a large-scale campus construction project known as Campus Crossroads—were two of the main factors that eventually put almost 4.8 million pixels inside Notre Dame Stadium in the form of a video board that measures 54 feet tall and 95 feet wide.
“This was a big decision for Notre Dame,” says Cifarelli. “They wanted to keep the historic nature of the stadium if they were going to do this. This video board is a fan enhancement vehicle, not an advertising opportunity.”
That’s not just an exaggeration either. The home of the 11-time national champions won’t show a single advertisement on its video board, says Bonner.
“You’ll never see a kiss cam. You’ll never see an awkward dads dance. The philosophy we’re taking with this board is to be appropriate and to show things that are appropriate to the game and to the fans. We’re a pretty conservative brand,” he says.
Bonner and his team will show team prayers and Mass schedules, though. And replays. Lots and lots of replays, thanks to nine manned and nine robotic cameras throughout the facility. But they won’t be able to test any audio from Mondays through Thursdays until 5:01 p.m. and on Fridays until noon because O’Neill Hall is an active building with classes going on until those times.
“Everything put into this project was well-received,” says Bonner, who believes the video board could be a differentiator for a top-level recruit who wants to come to Notre Dame but worried about it having technology of the past.
The biggest challenge for ANC on this job was “attaching the screen to a structure that was in the process of being built,” says Cifarelli. That’s O’Neill Hall, which backs up to the stadium but is in a position where it won’t block or obscure famous on-campus icons such as the Golden Dome, the Basilica and the Word of Life mural, better known to fans as Touchdown Jesus.
“We were very careful in keeping the look we had when adding the board,” says Bonner. Fans who come to the opener on Sept. 2 vs. Temple will see a nod to the past when they look at the new video board leading up to kickoff, he says, with the historic Longines playing a vital role.
Later in the season, fans may notice Bonner and his gameday crew doing more with the boards than they do during the first game. That’s only natural, he says.
“We’ll keep the show very simple in the beginning and add more as we learn more about some of the bells and whistles,” he says.