By NASH NUNNERY
Invigorated by back-to-back Southwestern Athletic Conference football crowns, Alcorn State University wants to keep the momentum going with a championship-worthy scoreboard.
And not just any scoreboard but the largest video scoreboard within the Historically Black College and University network.
Marcus Ward, who serves as executive director of the Alcorn State University Foundation, says the atmosphere on football Saturdays in Lorman will be electric.
“We’re very excited and energized by this project,” he said. “It’s certainly going to change the whole game day experience for our fans. The new board represents our greater ability to market the university and welcome new advertisers and sponsors.”
Preparations for installation of the high-tech scoreboard in the north end zone of ASU’s Spinks-Casem Stadium began soon after graduation ceremonies concluded in May. Construction by The Busby Cos. on the board is expected to be completed in early August.
“We’re extremely proud to be a partner with Alcorn State,” said Busby Vice-President Brant Busby. “Work is right on schedule and everything should be operational before (Alcorn’s) Aug. 21 pre-season scrimmage.”
The Braves will host five games this season, including the Sept. 10 season opener against Alabama State and the 2016 finale against bitter rival Jackson State University.
The impressive LED display will measure 65 feet by 25 feet and feature an impressive 10 mm pixel pitch, and high quality 1952×736 resolution. The board will have the capability to show a combination of video feed, instant replays, still images, and sponsor messages.
It also will be capable of variable content zoning, allowing the board to display one large image or multiple smaller windows to show any combination of live video, instant replays, up-to-the-minute statistics, and graphics and animation.
“The board is all-virtual, meaning that there are no fixed scoring elements,” said Busby. “This technology is night and day from the old scoreboard for the college and its advertisers. Alcorn is joining an elite group, from the largest (NCAA) Division I schools to the NFL, to feature a Jumbotron with all the ‘bells and whistles’.”
Ward says there is no shortage of media inquiries regarding the Braves’ football resurgence and the new LED board. The Undefeated, an ESPN-produced digital story-telling venture that covers African-Americans in sports, is doing a feature on the scoreboard.
“The back-to-back championships and building one of the newest LED video boards in the nation has generated a lot of positive publicity,” he said. “Our win in the Celebration Bowl last year was the 17th most watched game of the 2015 bowl season.
“All of this attention really strengthens the Alcorn State brand.”
With a price tag approaching $1 million, the LED scoreboard will be operated by three to four ASU staffers who are becoming well-versed on its state-of-the-art technology. Also, a new service access road to the board is being built to accommodate construction, and will allow greater versatility for stadium operations.
The Busby Companies was the right fit to do the job, Ward said.
“We made it a priority to find a Mississippi-based company for installation,” he said. “(Busby) has a wealth of experience in LED technology. You can see their digital billboards all over the state.”
ASU alumnus Bobby Watkins said the new Jumbotron will be a welcome addition to the Lorman campus. But it’s part of a bigger picture, according to the Memphis native.
“The last couple of years, Alcorn State football has become relevant again and the LED video board is representative of what’s happening on campus,” Watkins said. “Good things seem to come in bunches and Braves fans are very excited about our future, both academically and athletically.”
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