When Michigan State University plays Boise State tonight the game may be a toss up, but one thing is for certain: our scoreboard is bigger than theirs’ and most any other team’s scoreboard in the United States. There are pro teams who will be salivating over MSU’s $10 million digital scoreboard.
This past summer MSU installed three new digital video scoreboards in order to reach what a spokesperson for the sports program called the “industry standard.” Heaven forbid MSU didn’t meet the industry standard for scoreboard sizes. Who knew there was even an industry standard. The MSU stadium now has a massive 5,300 square foot video board in the south end zone and two 1,625 square foot scoreboards in the north end zone. And let’s not forget the 10 foot high video band that stretches the 450 foot length of the end zone.
Even during a timeout this year you will never lack for audio or visual stimulation. MSU also has bigger scoreboards now than the University of Michigan whose scoreboards only “weigh” in at 4000 square feet. I expect they are suffering from scoreboard envy.
It’s been reported widely that at a recent press conference about the scoreboard Deputy Athletic Director Greg Ianni said, “we’re going to be able to entertain you a little bit better than we have in the past.” Other than the score, the down, the quarter, minutes to play and yards to go I was always entertained enough. The next thing you know MSU will be playing a basketball game on an aircraft carrier. In my day entertainment amounted to a fraternity member doing pushups combined with the ringing of a bell when MSU scored a touchdown.
A certain number of people who come to watch the game on the field might add the word “annoy” to Ianni’s statement. But face it, there are those who’d rather watch the game on a giant video game, never having to lay an eye on the field.
In today’s Wall Street Journal it was reported that a Texas High School team had installed a video scoreboard. Now that’s what you call scoreboard envy.
To help put all the hype in some historical perspective the November 1972 MSU Alumni Magazine reported on the installation of two new scoreboards for Spartan Stadium replacing the scoreboard which had been installed in 1948. Scoreboards back then weren’t quite as fancy as today’s giant video boards and the two boards cost $65,000 which was picked up by Coca Cola. At the time there was some outrage that the University allowed an advertisement on the scoreboard. If ads pop up for say Huntington Bank tonight I doubt there will be one voice at the game decrying ads on the new scoreboards. It’s the world we live in.
Earlier this week I was talking with a long time pro sports executive now retired who was lamenting how “sports today are controlled by corporations.” No doubt about that.
I want to emphasize that no public funds went into the price of the scoreboard which was paid for through sponsorships and funds dedicated to athletics, but you still have to wonder what $10 million could buy beside a giant video game. And hopefully those pesky Wolverines won’t figure out how to hack it.