Feature Article - July 2008
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Know the Score

Scoreboard Options Run the Gamut

By Dawn Klingensmith

Scoreboards as Architecture

"Despite all the technological advancements, scoreboards have looked relatively the same for more than 70 years. Rectangular scoreboards have been the norm for decades—until now," said Reeder, who represents a manufacturing company that recently introduced a new line of LED scoreboards in a range of shapes, such as sports balls and equipment, states, team mascots and flags.

At the professional level, scoreboards are rising to the level of architecture. Perhaps the most stunning exemplar of this trend is the four-sided, center-hung LED scoreboard belonging to the NBA Bobcats of Charlotte, N.C. The scoreboard features four 28-foot-by-16-foot LED screens that can change with lightning speed throughout the game to display full-screen, high-definition videos — such as on-court action, replays, fan scans, promotions or advertisements—or any divided-screen combination of video, animations, graphics, text or scores. In addition to the four horizontal displays, the scoreboard has four vertical LED displays on the corners of the structure, which can be used for advertising.

But what sets the scoreboard apart is the massive three-dimensional, to-scale replica of the Charlotte skyline that sits atop the scoreboard and accounts for nearly half of the structure's height. The windows in the buildings light up, all together or in clusters, to create different effects. The largest of the skyscrapers is 18 feet tall. The skyline, built by Hollywood set designers, brings the structure's dimensions to 36-feet-by-38-feet and its weight to a staggering 80,000 pounds.

The Kansas City Royals' ballpark unveiled a new $8.3 million scoreboard at the start of the 2008 baseball season, and it, too, features an architectural element—a massive, gold-colored crown is perched atop the 105-by-85-foot high-definition screen. According to one news report, a staff of 17 people is needed to operate the scoreboard.

While such systems are impressive, the vast majority of consumers in the market for a scoreboard will be compelled by budget constraints to settle for a model that basically keeps track of who's winning or losing. With that in mind, there's a winning model for just about every organization and budget.