Montana Grizzlies adding new video board in Dahlberg Arena

16 September 2017

A big installation is taking place inside Dalberg Arena this month that will greatly impact the environment on gamedays. Fans who come watch the Griz and Lady Griz in action this season will get an upgraded experience thanks to the installation of brand-new video board.

The four-panel, high-definition video board will hang above midcourt and will replace the LED center hung that was installed in 2004 and had no video capabilities. Each of the four video panels will be 16.38 feet wide by 9.45 feet tall, with a ring below that will add an additional 2.62 feet of height that can display stats or sponsorship elements.

The main LEDs are part of ANC’s 6mm XL Series, a quality comparable to many NBA arenas. In total, more than 700 square feet of LED is being installed, including nearly 400,000 total pixels per main display board.

The benefits to the videoboard are threefold, and best yet, it is costing the university nothing. The enhancement is possible through UM’s most-recent agreement with Learfield, part of the same project that brought a new HD video board to Washington-Grizzly Stadium prior to the 2016 season.

Learfield has been UM’s long-time exclusive multimedia rights holder and manages the multimedia and sponsorship rights for more than 130 collegiate institutions, conferences and arenas across the country.

When Dahlberg Arena opened in 2000, there was no center hung, just four sideboards that displayed the score and clock in the corners of the venue. In 2004, a center hung was installed to give fans easier access to the score and clock, plus enhanced statistics. Also in 2004, a small video board was added to the north wall.

“It’s always been a long-term goal of ours to get video on the center hung,” associate athletics director for internal operations Chuck Maes said. “Because of the way the stadium was built, not everyone has an unobstructed view of the video board.”

Until now, that is.

“Fans will notice the video component right away,” Maes said. “Instead of having to look to the north side, fans, no matter where they are sitting, will have high-definition video easily accessible. There will be no bad seat in the house.”

Which goes back to the three main benefits to the video board.

First, there’s the fan experience. The scores and stats will be right in front of the fans, at all times, plus Maes estimates that 90 percent of the time the board will display live video of game action. Not to mention the ways Dahlberg Arena will come to life during timeouts and intermission thanks to replays, highlights, crowd prompts and more.

“Any time a fan goes into an arena and they feel involved in the game and the event, it really makes it a once-in-a-lifetime, enjoyable experience,” said Shannon Schweyen, head coach of the Lady Griz. “We have such great fans here and such a great environment, but now you throw in this video board and it makes the total overall fan experience something unique and special and like nowhere else in the Big Sky.”

That leads to benefit No. 2. Montana will be one of three Big Sky schools with a centralized video board in its basketball arena – and by far the newest, largest and highest quality – making it not only a recruiting pitch for the environment that student-athletes will be competing in front of, but also the facilities.

“This will greatly impact the gameday environment in a positive way and will greatly impact us on the recruiting trails,” head men’s basketball coach Travis DeCuire said. “This is another reason why the University of Montana is a very special place.”

Lastly, there’s the opportunity for the university to sell sponsorship through the use of a video board, which is a large reason why the construction could be worked into UM’s contract with Learfield and be constructed at no cost to the university.

The installation began earlier this month, piecing the boards together on the ground, over a covered playing surface. Earlier this week the four video panels were complete, followed by the LED rung underneath. On Thursday, finishing touches were made and the product was raised into place.

Minor tweaks and fine tuning remain, with the goal being to have it fully operating by Oct. 1 to give the athletics department a month to learn the intricacies of it prior to basketball season.

The frame and structure was all fabricated locally by Professional Construction Services. P.E.T.E.S. Electric in Missoula was hired to pull the power and data for ANC, the world-renown company that is designing and installing the product – just like it has done for some of the top schools and teams across collegiate and professional athletics.

ANC provides integrated signage, design and marketing solutions to sports, entertainment, retail and transportation facilities. Some of ANC’s recent projects include the Seattle Mariners (largest HD video display in MLB), the Los Angeles Dodgers (most pixels per square foot in MLB), the Cleveland Cavaliers (largest center hung in the United States), Fulton Center (largest digital media network in a New York City transportation center), as well as more than 30 NCAA deployments including Notre Dame’s first-ever video board inside its iconic football stadium.

In addition to the main boards at midcourt, the plan is to take the scoreboard pieces of the recently removed center hung and replace the corner scoreboards, which are the originals installed in 2000. This will give them a newer look, in addition to fitting better due to them being longer and narrower.

“It will be a challenge for us to learn how to best utilize our new video board, but we’re excited for that challenge,” Maes said. “We really feel like this is a game changer for us.”