Gonzaga coach Mark Few shows up for work, winding his way around fenced construction zones, stepping on temporary plywood paths and walking past the entrance of the men’s basketball locker room.
“It’s like showing up to your house every day when it’s being built,” Few said a few weeks ago. “The construction people have been unbelievable, working weekends, nights. It’s going to be phenomenal once they get it all done.”
That day is coming soon for the building boom involving Gonzaga athletics. The majority of the three-story Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement should be done by late November. The expanded locker room is nearly ready to open its new glass doors.
Several improvements have already debuted, including the new center-hung scoreboard and two new end-wall videoboards inside the McCarthey Athletic Center. Similar videoboard upgrades have been made at the Martin Centre (volleyball) and Luger Field (soccer), and another is under construction at the Patterson Baseball Complex. The videoboard projects were funded by booster donations.
“You step inside the (MAC) concourse and the center-hung (scoreboard) jumps out at you,” athletic director Mike Roth said. “It adds to the whole atmosphere of the building.”
The four-sided, center-hung scoreboard is visible from every one of the 6,000 seats that are routinely filled for men’s basketball games. The end-wall videoboards are 36 feet wide, replacing boards that were 16 feet wide, and can provide a combination of video and statistical information.
The high-definition video is crystal clear and so is the sound emanating from the 32-speaker JBL Audio system.
Or, as senior guard Silas Melson put it, “I think you can see every bump on my face on the screen.”
Fans attending men’s basketball’s Kraziness in the Kennel and women’s basketball’s Fan Fest last month saw the new videoboards in action. What they didn’t see was the scramble to complete installation of the center-hung scoreboard before the men’s event on Oct. 7.
Roth kept an eye on the progress, making the short walk from his new office inside the Volkar Center.
“It was going to be hard to hold Kraziness if that 10-ton scoreboard was still sitting on the court,” Roth cracked. “It would have made for funky fast breaks, swerving around the scoreboard.”
Once the scoreboard was in place, Gonzaga’s staff had to get up to speed with the operations manual.
“We had a couple people that stayed all day that Friday (before Saturday’s Kraziness), Friday night and slept in the building because they had to run all the videos and they hadn’t had any time to do it,” Roth said.
The scoreboard will probably hang 30 feet above the court, said Todd Zeidler, assistant athletic director for communications. As one might guess, the illimitable NCAA rule book has an entry dedicated to the minimum height (25 feet) for a center-hung scoreboard. The highest GU’s scoreboard can rise is 34.5 feet.
Fans seated in the top rows of the upper section are able to see the entire lower bowl on the opposite side. For example, those seated in the upper reaches of the south side can witness the Kennel Club bring Zombie Nation to life.
Response from fans has been overwhelmingly positive.
“People loved it,” Zeidler said. “It provides them with a great new experience and a continued growth in the experience they’re receiving in our building.”