With Daktronics, Colleges Take LED Screens Courtside

By Carolyn Braff

College arenas around the country are starting to look more like professional venues, and Daktronics is helping bring that polished look to athletic departments from Akron to Wake Forest. More than 20 college basketball programs now sport Daktronics digital scorer’s tables, bringing dozens of feet of display capabilities to the front-and-center courtside position.

Despite the name, Daktronics digital scorer’s tables are not confined to a single position. The University of Kansas, for example, has wrapped the entire court with 180 feet of digital courtside signage, with video boards on both sidelines and under both baskets, 90 feet of which is television-visible.

“I believe that our installation here was the largest courtside table-signage install of any venue in the country,” says Jason Booker, general manager of Jayhawk Sports Marketing.

All of the existing digital signage at Allen Fieldhouse — exit way and scoreboard — was provided by Daktronics, so integrating the courtside signage into the control-room setting was simple.

“A big benefit for us is that all of our systems can communicate together now,” Booker explains. “When we had paper signage, it had to be controlled courtside, but now we’re able to move all of that up to our video-control room, and our crew is able to direct all elements at once.”

The high-resolution LED boards enable athletic departments not only to provide real-time statistics and enhanced animation but also to wrap an entire building in sponsorship, which is a great revenue builder.

“It’s one of the most valuable pieces of inventory that we sell,” Booker says. “It really enhances our sponsorships in the fact that, if we have a feature, like our First National Bank Championships Moments, the entire venue changes to First National Bank on the click of a button. Instead of just a branding, we’re also able to offer scrolling messages and animations to our clients, so it’s really changed our landscape.”

Kansas’ boards were installed in late October through a joint partnership with Van Wagner Dorna USA, so Rock Chalk Video, Kansas Athletics’ video production department, continues to find new applications for the boards, experimenting with everything from animation and video to real-time updates on other games.

Depending on the amount of signage purchased — arenas have the flexibility of installing anywhere from a single 30-foot board to Kansas’s 180-foot wraparound — the digital scorer’s tables can cost $150,000-$300,000, so athletic departments are eager to fully capitalize on their investment.

“To utilize the equipment to the fullest, you want to get some proper training for personnel, and you want to make sure you’re utilizing graphics, colors, and backgrounds in the best possible manner,” explains Joe Potter, CEO of ISP [International Sports Properties], a college-sports marketing firm that has facilitated the purchase of a dozen digital scorer’s tables for colleges across the country. “You want to make sure that it interacts appropriately with lighting in the venue, so that can take a bit of time and attention.”

Usually, someone already on staff at the school can operate the board, and the boards integrate with scoreboard equipment already installed in the venue.

“Overall, the display provides the school and its sponsors a lot more flexibility,” Potter explains. “Whether that’s with graphics, information, pictures, or ad copy, it gives them a lot more visual opportunity, which also provides more value to the client.”

And from an aesthetic perspective, it happens to look pretty slick, as well.

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