New Scoreboard Designed With Fans in Mind

It weighs 46,000 pounds, is 31 feet tall and 35 feet wide and features a dozen video panels as well as an LED ring.

Indeed, the new Ford Center scoreboard will be one of the biggest and best in the NBA.

After months of research, backing from Oklahoma City taxpayers and the underlying goal of upgrading the fan’s in-game experience, the Thunder’s new $3.9 million scoreboard is another step closer and will be one of the leading scoreboards in NBA and NHL arenas.

“Through video, the use of color, the multi-tasking opportunities, I think it will be more vibrant, more dynamic,” said Brian Byrnes, Thunder Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales & Service. “Those are the words that will resonate when people think what’s really the difference between a scoreboard. This is so much more than a scoreboard. It’s a real video presentation, which I think just really enhances the whole experience of being at the game.”

The scoreboard, made by the South Dakota-based manufacturer Daktronics, is now hanging in the Ford Center and being tested. It will make its official debut during the Thunder’s preseason opener in mid October.The scoreboard will feature 10 full-motion video panels as compared to the current four-panel configuration to provide a dramatic, brighter pop to colors and images. The new 10mm video panels are nearly three times the size of the main screens on the current 12mm scoreboard.

The new board will allow for a multi-tasking experience, with a live game feed, score, clock, statistics and sponsor messaging can be played simultaneously. There will also be a pop-up element, which will alert fans to what will happen during the next timeout, whether it’s a sponsored promotion or an appearance by Rumble or the Thunder Girls.

“I think the audience is accustomed now to draw in multiple sources of input,” Byrnes said. “This board is going to allow us to do that.”

Not only will it be bigger and better, but it will have a unique and innovative component, courtesy of Thunder Chairman Clay Bennett.

The bottom of the board will feature two tilted 6mm video panels that form a v-shape wedge to cater to fans in the first five to seven rows. Fans in the lower level, players and officials will no longer have to subject themselves to neck-craning or distorted views. Bennett suggested the idea to Daktronics and it became a reality. Other scoreboards across the nation are expected to adopt the concept.

The Thunder did fairly extensive research for its new scoreboard by enlisting the services of consultant Jim Cronin of ICON Venue Group, a Colorado-based sports and entertainment venue development and operations services firm, and through various field trips made by the Thunder’s executive team. The Thunder also worked closely with City of Oklahoma City officials to help prepare designs.

Aside from visiting various NBA, college and NFL stadiums and arenas, trips to Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center, home of the 76ers, and Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center, home of the Wizards, provided the most insight to the organization’s vision.

The Verizon Center, in particular, was the biggest influence on adding the angled video boards.

“Because the one common denominator in all the other buildings that we looked at was, for folks sitting in the first five or seven rows, it was very challenging experience to see the video board, and we thought we could do better,” Byrnes said.

The foundation for the new scoreboard and other arena renovations was laid back in March of 2008, when Oklahoma City voters approved a one-cent sales tax that would last for 15 months through March 31, 2010.

Final plans for the new board came to fruition toward the end of the regular season, with the final design being approved in mid May and Daktronics was awarded the bid.

From player introductions and halftime performances to national anthems and sponsor logos, the new scoreboard will cater to everything that happens inside the Ford Center.

“It will be so much more dramatic because of the video and digital technology than what the old board will allow us to do,” Byrnes said.

Contact Chris Silva