When the Wolverines came to practice last Monday, they found a brand new 7,600-pound scoreboard hanging over center-ice.
“I was shocked,” junior forward Mark Mink said. “I had no idea it was going up there until I saw it when I came in for practice. It just makes the arena that much more special.”
The Dektronics-designed scoreboard has four large screens and a Pro-Ad LED Message Center, which will put over 68 billion colors at the team”s disposal.
“This is the top of the line in terms of displays,” Michigan Director of Marketing Tom Brooks said.
The scoreboard is also equipped with four “boxing lights” underneath it to prevent shadows from forming on the ice. When the lights are on, the scoreboard will have little impact on the actual gameplay, according to Berenson.
“Maybe you”d have to skate out to the blue-line to see the time,” he said. “But it can be hard to see the clock in many of the places we play anyway.”
Berenson”s only concern about the scoreboard was its size. He felt that it was important for the scoreboard to fit in with the rest of the stadium without having a either a dominating or a puny presence.
“I”m really happy with it,” Berenson said. “This is a huge upgrade for us. This will do a lot to help the atmosphere. It”ll be better for the whole Michigan hockey community.”
The players share Berenson”s enthusiasm.
“It”s great,” freshman defenseman Nick Martens said. “They had been going with the lame scoreboard for a while, but this organization deserves something like this.
“I am not sure if it takes away from the old rink atmosphere. But this technology is more up to beat and more current with NHL teams.”
But this scoreboard is missing one key element from those in NHL arenas video.
The wiring has been done so that video could be added in the future, but the setup costs associated with it have been estimated at $500,000. So, at least for this year, the display will function solely as a matrix screen.
“With the status of the athletic department budget right now I couldn”t tell you if we are going to put it in next year or ever,” Berenson said.
According to Brooks, the scoreboard will pay itself off after just one season thanks to the 24 fixed panels of advertising that surround the display screens.
Sponsors included Pepsi, AAA of Michigan, Northwest Airlines, Comcast, Ameritech, Bank One and Damon”s restaurant.
Coach Red Berenson isn”t bothered a bit by all those corporate logos.
“Advertising is a part of hockey,” Berenson said. “You”ll find them in almost every rink. I don”t know if we could have paid for (the scoreboard) without them.”
Unfortunately, not every seat in Yost will have a clear view of the new big screens.
The overhangs caused by the press box and the new 294-seat premium section will restrict sightlines for fans seated in the back rows.
But Michigan has a provided those people with some mini-scoreboards of their own.
Sixteen new television sets (eight on each side of the ice) will broadcast a video feed of the large center-hung scoreboard to those who will not be able to view it directly.
“Every seat here is a great seat,” Berenson said.
The Wolverines open their 2001-02 preseason at Yost this Friday at 7:35 p.m. with the annual Blue/White Intrasquad game.