UA game day may never be the same

2011-07-13T11:40:00Z 2014-09-15T09:47:34Z UA game day may never be the sameRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 13, 2011 11:40 am  • 

Construction crews outside Arizona Stadium have spent the last month erecting steel columns, placing supports and dealing with enough rebar and concrete to make us all forget about Rio Nuevo.

The only thing missing from the $7 million Arizona Stadium scoreboard project is the scoreboard itself.

That should change next month when workers install a 55-foot-tall, 112-foot-wide video board that's believed to be among the largest in the West. The new board will change the way Arizona Wildcats fans watch football in 2011 and beyond; done properly, athletic director Greg Byrne believes the screen could be a touchstone for a program still fighting to make its first Rose Bowl appearance.

"Until you get to be there firsthand and see it in person, it's hard to describe accurately the impact it has on game day," he said.

Here's a look at the construction project so far, what's next and what the new board means for a revamped Arizona Stadium:

• What's up: Lots of concrete and steel. Each of the six columns weighs about 40,000 pounds, providing a structural base for the board. Six horizontal steel beams totaling 300,000 pounds connect the columns and will back the video board. The board itself is 6 1/2 times larger than the current board.

• Where it sits: The new scoreboard is a free-standing structure, with its base located 6 feet south of Arizona Stadium along a sidewalk between the facility and Sixth Street. A catwalk and a "ship's ladder" system will connect the finished scoreboard to the stadium, giving workers easy access to make repairs.

The separate structure was by design, associate athletic director Steve Kozachik said.

"We had to get far enough away from the stadium so we didn't drill down into the foundation of the existing stadium," he said.

• What's closed: Construction has closed two lanes on Sixth Street, limiting traffic to one lane in each direction. The lanes will remain closed until next month, when the board is scheduled to be completed. Kozachik, who also serves as a Tucson city councilman, said the UA has received few complaints about the traffic tie-up.

"I think we've done a pretty good job of advertising it. Both (UA) athletics and the city did," he said. "Me wearing two hats has really served the process well."

• What's up next: The integral parts of the new board are on their way to Tucson. The LED board recently cleared customs in China and is being shipped by boat. The game-in-progress board is being trucked in. Both boards should reach Tucson in early August, when they will be installed. UA officials will spend most of next month testing the screen's software and crafting a game-day program. The Wildcats will open their season Sept. 3 against NAU; Byrne believes the board will be ready in time.

"We hope so," he said. "Until you turn it on and start seeing where your bugs are … it's a couple-week process."

• How they'll do it: The new board will be operated by a technician in a McKale Center control room. The room, which Kozachik said will resemble the inside of a television production studio, will house controls for video boards at Arizona Stadium, McKale Center, Kindall/Sancet Stadium and Hillenbrand Stadium. Crews will spend the summer running cables from McKale to the other facilities.

• What it means: The new scoreboard will change the way Arizona fans view games, providing high-resolution replays and in-game contests and features.

Byrne promises "a lot more fan interaction." The existing scoreboard will remain on the north side of the stadium, dwarfed by the new board, until the highly anticipated north end zone project begins.

"There's a lot more fan interaction (and) a lot more energy, and we already have a very high-energy stadium. It will do nothing but increase that."

Star sports reporter Patrick Finley contributed to this report

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