The Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority (CFA) and Columbus Blue Jackets announced today details of a comprehensive package of technological upgrades planned for Nationwide Arena, highlighted by the installation of a true high-definition (HD) scoreboard, aimed at enhancing fan experience and modernizing arena amenities as the facility enters its 13th year of operation. As part of a recently expanded corporate partnership between the Blue Jackets and the Dispatch Printing Company, the new scoreboard will be known as The Dispatch Media Center.
“The Convention Facilities Authority’s responsibility is to keep our facilities well-maintained and responsive to the changes in industry standards,” said CFA Executive Director Bill Jennison. “This arena was due for a major technology overhaul in order to keep pace with what visitors and event promoters have come to expect these days. These improvements also keep Nationwide Arena well positioned as an attractive destination for major events such as the upcoming NHL All-Star Game.”
The centerpiece of the $5.7 million project is The Dispatch Media Center, a true HD video scoreboard. The Dispatch Media Center will feature screens that are significantly larger than those of the original board designed to integrate multiple new high-resolution, energy-efficient LED video displays within the arena bowl, a project requiring the installation of 15.8 million new LEDs. The project will also include upgrading the arena’s audio system from analog to digital and supplementing it to improve audio coverage in all seating areas, as well as the installation of over 250 high definition flat-screen monitors throughout the arena and completely renovated state-of-the-art production facilities.
“This project is all about the fans and enhancing the in-game experience,” said Derek Dawley, Blue Jackets Director of Game Operations/Event Presentation. “Upgrading to HD and a larger screen will get fans attending the game more closely connected to the action. With our increased capabilities on the technical side, we can deliver more replays and detailed statistical information than is available when watching the game on TV.”
The custom-built Dispatch Media Center and fully integrated LED video display system will be manufactured and installed by Daktronics, an industry-leading designer and manufacturer of electronic scoreboards, programmable display systems, and large-screen video displays using LED technology. The 43,000-pound, four-sided scoreboard utilizes the latest in LED technology and boasts a primary per-screen size (25’ wide by 15 ½ ‘ high equaling 387 ½ square feet) slightly more than two and a half times the square footage of the original board (16’ wide by 9’ high equaling 144 square feet).
The primary video screen will be positioned beneath an upper video ring and above two lower video rings, including one that will serve as a dedicated scoring ring. The system offers the ability to operate as a single giant display or be divided into multiple zones to show a wide variety of live and recorded video, statistics, graphics, information and animation. The cumulative surface video display capability, including the three rings, will increase from the original board’s 576 square feet to 2,630 square feet.
To complement the dynamics of The Dispatch Media Center, several other in-arena message boards will be upgraded to LED. First, the two Party Towers (EXPERIENCE OUR PARTY TOWERS) that anchor the west corners of the arena bowl will be transformed into dynamic vertical video towers. Each tower will be topped by a video screen measuring approximately 25’wide by 14’ high with three ribbon boards featuring LED technology positioned between each suite level. The system has the ability to display coordinated messaging or animation across all screens or it may be divided by zone with the top screen also capable of showing live video.
The auxiliary boards currently located on the east and west ends of the arena bowl will also be upgraded to high-resolution color LED displays. In addition, the west-end board will be expanded from 88 feet to 130 feet as it takes over space previously occupied by static, backlit signage. Lastly, the current LED ribbon board that circles nearly three-fourths of the arena will also be visibly sharper after its resolution is doubled.
The Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, in cooperation with the Blue Jackets, employed the Virginia-based firm of Anthony James Partners to consult on the design, procurement and construction oversight of every component within the overall package.
Interview with Derek Dawley, Director of Game Operations and Event Presentation
Somewhere within the bowels of Nationwide Arena a few years ago, the idea of instigating a complete upgrade of the in-house video production was born.
Was it a realistic endeavor at the time? Probably not, but the subject didn't stray far from the forefront as time progressed and the Blue Jackets' event presentation leadership changed. The now-former video board that hung vividly from the rafters of Nationwide enjoyed a full, wholesome life of 12 years, but like all things, it was time to move on.
Once the Blue Jackets' arena lease was finalized and other assorted dominoes fell into place, the one-time dream became a distinct possibility. The multi-million dollar project is now in its final stages, and the brand-new "Dispatch Media Center" is on schedule to be completed on or before September 15.
It's an exciting transition for the organization and its fans, as the arena moves to a full-on high definition (HD) experience throughout the building. Monitors throughout the concourse, press box screens and LED boards around the arena bowl have been upgraded as part of a process geared toward making the Blue Jackets' fan experience among the best in professional sports.