Feature Article - October 2011
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Center Stage

The Latest in Scoreboards & Sports Lighting

By Deborah L. Vence

Video Displays & LED Technology

When it comes to video scoreboards, there are some new developments, too.

"We're seeing trends [in] quite a few different things. The one item is that we're really seeing a trend of video scoreboards/displays, and we're seeing that in the past video seemed to be reserved only for larger schools or facilities. It's safe to say now that video is becoming more of the standard; more mainstream. Technology is more affordable than ever before. Schools are able to acquire technology that is above or better than what they were able to do just a few years ago," said Angela Hatton, marketing manager for a Brookings, S.D.-based designer and manufacturer of electronic scoreboards, programmable display systems, and large-screen video displays using LED technology.

As technology becomes more affordable, one of the reasons why schools are opting for this new technology for video displays is the fact that they have the ability to diversify their messages, not to mention have good display quality.

"They can provide sponsor and recognition, statistical information, announcements, advertisements. There is a lot they can show," Hatton said.

Reeser agreed.

He said more smaller facilities are using video displays in their scoreboards.

"It gives people so much more flexibility," he said.

Moreover, schools and recreation facilities are starting to use video displays, as well.

"It gives more functionality," he said, adding that the prices of video displays have dropped considerably in the LED market.

Also, Hatton pointed out that "It used to be that you could get a traditional numeric scoreboard, and then you would have a video display on top.

"There's a trend now where people are purchasing universal matrix scoreboards," she said. "So, it's a video display on the entire screen, but they are able to section off the content. So, part of the content might be a digital scoreboard, but then a part of that content might be advertising/promotion and replays that type of information."

As for the future, Hatton said what's on the immediate horizon is larger, higher quality video.

"I see more choice. When we create, we have an opportunity. We want to see what our product looks like. We have an opportunity to create a rendering," she said. "I see people really want what's best for their facility and community. But, I think, really, facility managers need to be able to pick a display that's right for them; one that has the information they want to provide."

When it comes to LED technology, Hatton said "The biggest thing is that customers want to be empowered," giving them the option to choose what they want, including what color light they want on their LED scoreboards.

At Hatton's scoreboard company, in addition to maybe two other competitors, white LED technology is offered.

"It used to be that you only had red or amber for an outdoor board. With new technology, the quality of LEDs and brightness, you have a choice. I want my clock to be amber and scores to be red. We had individual customers who were asking [to] make the information more clear and easy to differentiate, and color can play a role in that," Hatton said.

Further highlighting the value of LED boards, Allain said, "Our ability to take scoreboards and marry them with LED boards in even small community sporting environments, such as at junior high schools and community centers, allows for a much better, richer content environment for sports at all levels.

"So, while scoreboard technology and scoreboards themselves may not be adding as many features as we would want, what is happening and what we are concentrating on is that marriage of LED which

creates a much richer environment for all leagues, all the way from community-based groups to junior high, high school and even college," he said.

"Our goal is clear. We want to create the richest environment for all types of sports environments. That's what I'm most excited about," Allain added. "We do have some interesting developments as it relates solely to scoreboards; the marriage between LED and scoreboard is what is currently rocking the world of scoreboards, and will continue that at a much faster pace."