Fans may look at Eastern Washington University sports in a new way this year.
State-of-the-art video scoreboards will be installed at both Roos Field and Reese Court, a university official told The Spokesman-Review late Thursday night.
“It took a lot of perseverence and a lot of teamwork,” said Mike Westfall, vice president for university advancement and executive director of the EWU Foundation, the nonprofit corporation which will take the leading role in managing the project.
“We’re fortunate that we have good leadership on both sides, the university and the foundation,” Westfall said.
Video scoreboards have been near the top of fans’ wish lists for years.
“It is certainly a long time coming,” said Athletic Director Bill Chaves. “There’s an expectation that fans have when they go to games, and this will add to the experience for our current fan base, and hopefully new fans, to what I think is a tremendous product as it is. This just enhances the product.”
The football scoreboard is expected to be completed well before the Eagles’ home opener on Sept. 29 against Montana, and will be “very proportionate to the size of Roos Field,” Chaves said.
“I’ve been in stadiums where you wish it was a little bigger,” Chaves said. “But we’re not going to have that issue at all.”
Information on the dimensions of the scoreboards was not immediately available. Both will be constructed by Daktronics, one of the nation’s leading scoreboard manufacturers.
The project will be financed by the EWU Foundation and will not include any taxpayer or non-designated donor dollars. The primary source of funding will come from advertising revenue generated from the scoreboards, which will also produce revenue for scholarships.
No sponsors have signed on yet.
“But we’ve mentioned it to potential sponsors, and there is definitely interest,” Westfall said. “We wouldn’t proceed with something like this if we didn’t feel there was an appetite for sponsorhip.”
Westfall added that the project fulfills a university need while creating a mechanism to generate scholarship support.
For Chaves, the scoreboard is a natural step forward after the momentum created with the installation of red synthetic turf at Roos Field and EWU’s victory in the 2011 Football Championship Subdivision title game.
“The ability to move our game-day environment into the video age is tremendously important,” Chaves said. “There is no doubt that fans in the 21st century expect quality video capabilities at games, but almost, if not more important, is the ability for the university to have a platform to tell ‘Eastern’s story’ in a compelling way at home games.”
The existing Roos Field scoreboard has been used for 112 football games since its installation in 1989, when Eastern returned the majority of its home football games to campus after using Spokane’s Joe Albi Stadium from 1984 to 1988.
It has also been used for numerous high school football games and track meets.
The video scoreboard will come on the heels of the installation of red synthetic turf in 2010, which was made possible with a lead gift from former EWU player and NFL All-Star Michael Roos and his wife, Katherine, and other donors.
“This type of enhancement will only help connect more people to EWU when visiting campus whether for athletics, community events or commencement,” EWU Foundation Chair Rob Neilson said.
“Part of the foundation’s mission is to generate more interest in the university and this project will go a long way toward that goal.”