Towson Leapfrogs SD To Bring HD to Unitas Stadium
By Carolyn Braff
Making the leap from a video-less scoreboard to a high-definition LED board is no easy feat — especially for a stadium housing an FCS-level football program (formerly known as Division I-AA). However, when a scoreboard company like Daktronics decides to use the venue as a live showroom, that feat becomes a lot more manageable. In the summer of 2008, Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium, located in Towson, MD, became the first FCS program on the East Coast to install a high-definition video board, and the school’s lacrosse and track teams will benefit from that installation this spring.
“The university contacted Daktronics a while ago, since the president has always felt like athletics is the front door to the university,” explains Tom Brush, senior associate athletic director for external affairs at Towson, “so it was important that we had good facilities to go along with that.”
Originally, Towson planned to install a matrix board and a standard-definition video board, but given the university’s location outside Baltimore, Daktronics had other plans.
“Because of our location and how nice our facility is, Daktronics decided to work with us on enhancing what we were planning to install,” Brush says. “They wanted to help enhance their product and worked with us on pricing, with the understanding that it would be in some ways a model for people to come in and look at the board. They made it very reasonable for us to make the decision to go HD.”
So go HD they did, installing a 17-foot-high by 47-foot-long HD LED board in the west end zone of the 11,198-seat stadium, home to Towson’s football, lacrosse, and track and field teams. The Colonial Athletic Association’s track and field championships will also take place at Towson this spring, as will the NCAA women’s lacrosse national championship, so the board will get plenty of eyeballs outside of the Towson faithful. Daktronics has also taken to using the board as something of a Mid-Atlantic showroom, to show off its HD-16 technology.
“We got great feedback during the football season not only from the community but especially from our opponents,” Brush says. “For our own fans, it’s changed the way they watch the game. They’ll watch the play, and then immediately, you’ll see everybody’s head turn to the left or right to check out what happened on the video board.”
A new HD production-control room was installed along with the video board, where a crew of 11 directed by Joel Kitay, president of Kitay productions, produces the three-camera scoreboard show for each game. The video board has also featured player vignettes and crowd prompts, but Brush is hoping to expand that roster.
“We do plenty of features for our Website, and the next step is to do some of that so we can use it on the video board,” Brush says. “Obviously, it’s something that’s new to us, so we’re trying to piece together how we can enhance what we do.”