Tech to get video scoreboard

HOUGHTON – New seats, new skyboxes and a new ice plant have all been added to the John J. MacInnes Student Ice Arena in recent years, but another new addition approved Thursday will further enhance the Michigan Technological University hockey fan experience – in the arena and beyond.

Tech’s Board of Control unanimously approved the purchase of a $615,000 video board during its quarterly meeting Thursday morning. All funding for the scoreboard and installation comes from donations.

“The scoreboard is going to be a really neat addition because not only will we be able to use it for the hockey games so people sitting in the stands can see those all-important replays – because sometimes things happen so fast that if you blink you miss it,” Tech President Glenn Mroz said following the meeting. “That’s going to be great, but we’ll also have the capability to use it at Commencement.”

The four-sided, center-hung Mitsubishi Diamond Vision video board is 14 feet wide by 14.5 feet high, with a 14-by-8-foot video screen and static ring at the bottom. The total weight of the board will be more than 12,000 pounds. Delivery of the custom-made board is expected around June 1, with installation expected to be complete by June 15.

“We’ve done phases (seats in 2006, Ruanne and John Opie Suites in 2009 and ice plant in 2012), and I’m pretty proud of the culmination of work,” Tech Athletic Director Suzanne Sanregret said. “We were one of the only current (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) members without a video board. It’ll make us a premier arena in the new structure of the WCHA.”

The current scoreboard is 22 years old and maintenance of the equipment is becoming costly due to limited availability of parts and outdated technology.

Total Sports Entertainment, based out of LaCrosse, Wis., will install a production/sound room with video equipment and make changes to the press box. According to Sanregret, the scoreboard will accompany improvements to video production and web-streaming capabilities across all Tech sports.

“It’s all going to go to (high definition),” Sanregret said. “I think that will incredibly enhance it. I think our plan right now, our rollout is to make sure we’re doing everything possible with hockey-related video board production, as well as web streaming there.

“What we plan to do is put the same fiberoptic and HD quality into the gym and football field and soccer field. We will be able to, right from the get-go, produce HD-quality web streaming for all of those sports. As we get more comfortable with the actual production pieces, all the graphics, et cetera, we will start putting those into our other web streaming as we go. We’re fortunate that we can grow into what this can be.”

Tech has already invested in the HD cameras, but just needs the fiberoptic cable. The number of additional game-day video operations jobs that will be added is yet to be determined.

“The positions are very significant, but the time commitment in hours for those individuals on game-day situations is not significant in terms of time and dollars,” Sanregret said. “We will be working on the script and how to coordinate all of those events into one production. When you have an ice rink with a video scoreboard, you actually have three events going on at once: it’s the live experience, it’s the video board experience, and then the web streaming piece. We’ll work on coordinating that, and I think that’s where some of our advertising and sponsorship revenue will go into play.”

Once setup is complete, advertising and sponsorship revenue will help with maintenance and any future upgrades, but the scoreboard’s up-front purchase and installation cost was covered by the Opies, who donated $350,000, and other significant gifts from Jolayne and Dan Farrell, and Venus and John Rockwell. Another Michigan Tech alum, Mark Rakoski, is an executive director at Mitsubishi Electric (based out of Warrendale, Pa.), and he was integral in bringing the project to fruition.

“I just really applaud Suzanne Sanregret and obviously our hockey alums and supporters who have done a good job stepping forward and supporting this cause,” Tech hockey coach Mel Pearson said. “I think it’s going to be a great addition for our fans on game night and really enhance the game-night experience, as well as making the Mac probably the nicest building, the premier building in the WCHA going forward.”