Boise State unveils game-changing video board in home debut

Bronco Stadium’s $1.5-million video and sound system upgrade is ready for operation three weeks ahead of schedule

ccripe@idahostatesman.comSeptember 7, 2013 

JOE JASZEWSKI — jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

  • BSU’S new video board: Tale of the tape

    VIDEO SPECS

    Screen size: 37 feet, 2 inches tall and 58 feet, 9 inches wide (the old screen was 18-by-24)

    Board size: 47 feet tall and 78 feet, 4 inches wide

    Big move: The board is 38 feet behind the old board, on top of the Bleymaier Football Complex.

    Model: The Daktronics 15HD LED display can show video in 720p HD, which is an upgrade over some college projects. The screen is built from 14-inch square panels and could operate 24/7 at full brightness for 11 years.

    SOUND SPECS

    Speakers: There are 10 total speakers, housed inside mesh-covered cabinets on each side of the video board. There are horns, designed to throw sound long distances, and subwoofers.

    Volume: The old system produced sound at 70 to 75 decibels in the south end of Bronco Stadium. “That’s the equivalent of somebody having a loud conversation,” said Brian Kohagen, sales/audio engineer for Production Services International in Boise. The new system should be able to reach 105 decibels.

  • FCS opponents can be frisky

    ESPN.com and USA Today took note. So did Boise State coach Chris Petersen.

    Seven Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams beat Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) members during college football’s opening weekend.

    The victims included No. 25 Oregon State (Eastern Washington) and defending co-Big 12 champion Kansas State (North Dakota State) — and the wave of upsets brought national media attention to the smaller schools.

    Petersen mentioned the upsets to his team at the beginning of this week as the Broncos began preparations for their home opener Saturday at Bronco Stadium against the UT Martin Skyhawks, who sit just outside the FCS Top 25 and have won nine of their past 12 games.

    “You can’t take anyone lightly, especially FCS schools,” senior center Matt Paradis said. “They see playing (FBS) schools as a chance for them to get attention, get their names in the paper. They’re the games they really get up for.”

    FCS programs get less financial support and fewer scholarships than FBS programs. The two subdivisions compete together in Division I in other sports, but are split for football.

    FBS teams pay FCS teams to play them to fill a spot on the home schedule and produce a big payday at the gate. Boise State paid UT Martin $425,000 for this game.

    The Broncos haven’t played an FCS team since 2009, when UC Davis put a scare into them. Boise State pulled away for a 34-16 win in Bronco Stadium.

    “If (the Skyhawks) come in and beat us,” Petersen said, “it’s not going to be because we were looking past them.”

    — Chadd Cripe

Bronco Stadium’s 12-year-old video board was in such bad shape when it came down Monday that Boise State recycled its parts.

“We considered donating it and letting some other people use it,” Senior Associate Athletic Director Curt Apsey said. “We felt like it might cost more for someone to install it than it’s actually worth.”

That illustrates how dire the need for a new board had become. The original board was expected to last eight to 10 years, Apsey said. Parts became difficult to find, and he worried whether it could make it through another season.

The challenge: paying for a replacement. When Boise-based Agri Beef Co. offered its help, Boise State began a mad dash to purchase and install a state-of-the-art, high-definition video board in the north end in time for the home opener Saturday against UT Martin.

The board, and accompanying sound system, will be operational Saturday, but the project is not quite finished. The mesh that covers the speaker cabinets couldn’t be completed because of wind conditions.

From the day it was announced, the new video board has been a hot topic with fans.

“We’re excited to see how it’s going to change the game atmosphere for everybody,” Apsey said.

Players included.

It used to be just NFL players who could look at a giant video board to see if anyone was chasing them.

“It looks pretty cool,” senior wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn said. “Maybe some day you get a chance to look at yourself running into the end zone.”

ENHANCING THE GAME

Daktronics’ software will run the board, which can display live video during game action, the game clock and score, replays, stats, out-of-town scores, sponsor logos and advertisements.

“We’ve got some really great promotional stuff planned that the fans will enjoy,” Apsey said.

Daktronics holds about 65 percent of the professional and college markets, regional sales manager Mark Johnson said. Its projects include the new video board at Husky Stadium in Seattle and boards for the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Daktronics is based in Brookings, S.D., home of South Dakota State. It was founded in 1968 by two professors of engineering who wanted to keep engineers in the state.

Can you hear me now?

The biggest issue with the old sound system was its most basic function.

“More than anything, it was the ability for our fans to understand what the P.A. announcer was saying,” Apsey said. “It was just such an old system that we’ve been cutting and pasting for the last 10 years.”

The system wasn’t even designed to handle music, which has become an important part of stadium sound.

“Today’s modern music, it really taxed the old system,” said Brian Kohagen, sales/audio engineer for Production Services International in Boise.

The new system was built with new components and cost $260,000.

PSI has helped Boise State upgrade the sound system for about a decade — updating amplifiers, adding long-throw horns, replacing wiring and moving the speakers from the south to the north. “We always had problems getting over the crowd noise,” Kohagen said.

The break-in period

Kohagen and two other PSI employees will walk Bronco Stadium on Saturday monitoring and adjust ing the sound system. It’s all computerized, so they can make adjustments from almost anywhere.

“We’re hoping we can (get it tuned) with this first game,” Kohagen said. “I’m sure there will be some input coming back from the crowd. With brand-new systems, there are bound to be a few hiccups.”

Apsey will monitor the video production. Last week at Husky Stadium, a worker’s arm could be seen dangling from inside the new video screen during pregame as he worked on a panel.

“I know that everything is not going to be perfect,” Apsey said. “We hope as the season goes on we just get better at it.”

'Double R Vision'

Agri Beef provided the lead gift for the video board, which will be named “Double R Vision.” The name comes from the Double R Ranch brand, which is one of Agri Beef’s premium beef lines.

The video and sound systems cost $1.5 million. Agri Beef declined to detail its contribution, but Boise State told the State Board of Education that it had $500,000 in committed donations for the project.

Agri Beef employs about 1,200. It has ranch, feed and processing operations in addition to beef products. The company previously contributed to the Stueckle Sky Center. The main banquet room is called the Double R Ranch Club.

Agri Beef officials told Apsey to call when it came time to replace the old video board. The company hopes to increase its visibility in its home market, where only one small retailer in Eagle carries its products.

QUICK HITS

How many cameras? Boise State has four HD cameras to feed the video board.

Can the system expand? Panels could be added to the video board, but that would require an addition to the support structure as well. The sound system can be expanded with more speakers.

What about the fans under the upper-deck overhang? They won’t be able to see the video board. They’ll see the video content on TV screens instead. Additional TVs have been added since last year.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398,Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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