500,000 pixels of fun

Arizona chiropractors may get a boost in business this year after Wildcat games.

There are going to be quite a few cricked necks.

McKale Center debuted its massive new video board on Thursday night for the team’s Pac-12 opening matchup, and, judging by the oohs and aahs from the bleachers, reviews were positive.

Just as Arizona wanted, and needed.

“A video screen like this, we consider it a necessity,” assistant athletic director for video and information technology Matt George said. “It’s not here to draw fans, it’s here to keep fans. It keeps the fans excited. The game that’s going on the court brings fans to the arena; our job is to keep them entertained when they’re here, hopefully make them want to stay the whole game.

“Really, it’s just about having fun.”

And fun it showed, all 500,000-plus pixels of it as the Wildcats built a three-touchdown halftime lead at 28-7.

There were a pair of dunks by Kaleb Tarczewski, enlarged and in charge, and dagger three-pointers by Nick Johnson and Gabe York that looked even better on replay.

Two years of research and development went into the project, with George looking across the country for comparison. An executive team took ideas from Michigan, Notre Dame and Oregon, among others, to come up with a design that George said was “stacked like a deluxe hamburger.”

It’s the McKale Big Mac, only big, big, as in: 18 feet by 10 feet per screen, 960 pixels by 540 pixels — more than 500,000 in total per screen — with two 3-foot rings on the top and bottom that measure 97 and 63 feet in circumference, respectively.

To compare: The old video board was 10 feet wide and 8 feet tall, with just over 40,000 pixels.

By Thursday night, the board was about 90 percent complete, George said, with work still needed to be done on the cladding. It was hung Dec. 26, in time for the first images to be shown, some of the first of which were the football program’s 42-19 AdvoCare V100 Bowl win over Boston College.

The project, awarded to the Panasonic Solutions Group, cost roughly $1.5 million to $2 million.

“We were very budget-friendly with the board,” George said. “It’s not an exorbitant amount of money. It’s very competitive in the market.”

George said the video board was viewed as “phase zero” in McKale Center’s major renovation, which is expected to cost around $80 million when completed.”

No Black Friday deals?

A fan sitting near the court for the matchup was in awe of the video board on Thursday night, and he might want to check out the next Best Buy specials.

“That’s bigger than my TV at home!” he exclaimed.

Big number

9.5 percent

Without two starters, including leading scorer DaVonté Lacy, Washington State shot just 9.5 percent in the first half.

Tweet of the night

“Sean Miller should force Arizona to run a suicide for every point the Wildcats allow over 10.” — @ZackBlatt (Daily Star sportswriter Zack Rosenblatt)

Putting it in reverse

McKale Center had a lot to cheer for defensively early in Arizona’s blowout of Washington State, but the Cats also had a beautiful reverse layup by T.J. McConnell off an even prettier pass from Johnson with 4:18 left in the first half.

Jon Gold