Is it big enough?
That’s been fans’ biggest concern about the new video scoreboard at Eastern Washington, which will get its first test Saturday in the Eagles’ football home opener Saturday against Montana.
The scoreboard measures 405 square feet, less than one-third the size of Washington State’s and less than half that of Montana’s. On the other hand, it ranks sixth in the Big Sky Conference and 23rd among Football Championship Subdivision schools, most of which don’t have a video scoreboard.
The real question, asks EWU Athletic Director Bill Chaves: Does it fit in at Roos Field, capacity 8,600?
The issue isn’t size. It’s proportion and cost-effectiveness, said Chaves, who said that a higher-quality screen and improved sound system will more than make up for the smaller size.
“To go from a scoreboard that was built in the ’80s to this, that’s a tremendous leap for us,” he said.
Fresh from a trip to Ogden, Utah, Chaves compared the scoreboard with the one at Weber State, which measures 497 square feet but is six years old in an industry that evolves almost daily.
“Our resolution will be twice as good,” Chaves said.
Moreover, the sound system will be more effective because it is focused from end zone to end zone, rather than across the field.
“The sound piece of this will be a major difference-maker, because it’s set up for a stadium of about 30,000,” Chaves said.
“I think every institution and department needs to do what they think is right for their institution,” Chaves said of the project, which together with a 120-square-foot video scoreboard for basketball, will cost about $1.1 million.
The project is financed by the EWU Foundation. Funding will come from advertising revenue generated from the scoreboard, which will also produce revenue for scholarships.
“I’m going to have a sneaky suspicion that our scoreboard is going to have a tremendous effect on the fan base and the game day experience,” Chaves added, noting that the football team will enter the stadium almost underneath the scoreboard.
Some have asked why the scoreboard wasn’t located inside the track and thus closer to the fans. Chaves has about 200,000 reasons, but it’s even more complicated than that, since that would have involved tearing up the track while losing revenue from end-zone seating for Saturday’s game.
In the long term, the scoreboard would be relocated anyway, if the school wins funding and goes ahead with the $20 million-plus Gateway Project. In terms of total dollars, the cost of scoreboard relocation would be a tiny percentage of the overall project cost.
For now, the scoreboard will undergo final technical tests today and Thursday. Sponsors will be unveiled on Saturday.
That, for now, is the size of it.