Mizzou Tigers Roar With Renovated South End Zone Facility at Memorial Stadium
The entire project was built to the tune of $98 million
About 160 miles away from the massive Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the University of Missouri has spent a good chunk of the past two seasons constructing a gigantic structure of their own. The south end zone facility inside of Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium comes with new suites, club seats, dining areas, and a 30 ft. x 80 ft. LED videoboard as the finishing touch. The Tigers are 2-0 at home (and are outscoring their opponents by a bonkers differential of 88-7) since its unveiling, and ahead of their first conference game of the 2019 season, the university is excited to showcase the new video capabilities in front of a raucous SEC crowd.
“This video board adds to the energy within this stadium,” says Chad Pothoff, production manager, broadcast operations, University of Missouri. “It creates an impact that every display producer is trying to create to help get the fans riled up. And then, of course, that will help the team win.”
New Screen on the Scene: Daktronics Brings the In-Venue Juice
The prior state of Memorial Stadium was a totally different setup than what presently stands. Before 2019, the crew operating the in-venue video board were doing the job with a display at a much larger scale.
“There was a four-by-three Daktronics display that was used in the past and it was only used for either static sponsorship [posts], light animated graphics, and some crowd prompts,” says Pothoff. “The big grab that was down [near the south end zone] in the past was out-of-town scores that cycled through, so there was nothing from a video standpoint. These were all run off of Daktronics Venus 7000 controllers and players.”
With the help of copious amounts of donors and the department that runs the Tiger Scholarship Fund, Missouri-based architecture company Populous was called upon to handle the structural requests. From a video perspective, Daktronics came back to install the new video display. And despite rough weather conditions, Daktronics worked hand-in-hand with the university to stay on track.
“Overall, we had a little bit more of a tough winter than what we typically see here and that did slow down the construction process a little bit,” says Pothoff. “Daktronics was ready to go every step of the way. It was remarkable how fast everything came together.”
In addition to introducing physical changes to the production workflow, the team running videoboard production from the control room in Mizzou Arena (along with in-venue and executive producers sitting in the westside press box in the stadium) made the jump from a Ross XPression graphics package to the Daktronics Show Control system. Training a staff of 25 workers is not an easy task, and despite the fact that the basketball arena possesses the same production platform, Daktronics gave a crash course on the program before the start of the season to get everyone up to speed.
“They came in August and we spent a week with them to learn the machine. We already kind of had an idea of what we wanted the layouts of the boards to look like because I [made] mock drawings, [then on] Photoshop, and sent those around to get approved,” says Pothoff. “It was definitely a huge learning curve, but we tried to stay ahead of the game that way so when it came time for training, we could focus on how to work the actually machine actually.”
On September 7, the south end zone facility was christened with the first snap of the home opener against West Virginia. With previous seasons filled of manual labor, diligent planning, and productive strategizing, the in-venue team set out on exercising the new videoboard in ways that were never seen before in Memorial Stadium.
“We’re doing a bunch of different things on this videoboard. We can certainly go full with prerecorded content, the intro video, hype videos, crowd prompts, and all of the messaging that fans come to expect,” says Pothoff. “During play, the board has your standard game in progress information, so game stats, our live video feed, and a bit of light advertising from our friends at Learfield are constantly cycling up there. The feedback we’ve heard has been incredible.”
Show Me the Details: Upgrades Continue in the South End Zone
Back in the early years of statehood, many Missourians utilized a simple two-word phrase that has withstood the test of time and embedded itself in present-day lexicon: “show me.” Mizzou has taken the unofficial slogan of the state and elevated it to a whole new level with features that are enticing every Tigers fan, administrative employee, coach, and player.
“The video portion of the south end zone is just a small part of a major overhaul,” says Pothoff. “In the past, they were housed across the street from the football stadium and that’s where their weight room, locker room, and training facilities were. Now, all of that is right here [in Memorial Stadium] as well as all of the coaches’ offices and team meeting rooms. In our area, there’s two clubs along with many different suite options.”
One of these premier club spaces, dubbed the Show Me Club, is a spot to grab a bite to eat and soak in some “NFL RedZone” flair with whiparound updates of the latest out-of-town action by an in-studio host on a large Daktronics display during commercial breaks of the game.
“We’re still playing around with the layout and what exactly we want to be able to display on there,” he continues. “We’re taking into account what the fans think and what they’d like to see.”
Down a bit closer to the players, a club area below the field will allow spectators to get away from the outdoor elements and relax with multiple TV monitors that are broadcasting the game.
The Bright Light (and Spark) of Mizzou Football
Recently, Pothoff and his crew powered up the videoboard and twinkled the night sky of Columbia, MO, in front of 56,620 strong last weekend against Southeast Missouri State. Already a formidable force in the collegiate ranks, the University of Missouri can now use this project to further enhance their stellar reputation.
“We already believe that we have the best production crew in the conference. This is a group that is well known for putting on high-quality TV broadcasts with ESPN and the SEC Network, but it’s also a group that’s very dedicated to Mizzou Athletics and wants to see our football team succeed,” says Pothoff. “We have the right tools to execute our vision for what a great in-venue show should look like.”
And since four of the remaining five home games are against SEC opponents, the new video board can become an integral part in transforming Memorial Stadium into a daunting place for opposing teams.
“We want to provide the fans with all of the content that they want to see on game day because it will keep them coming back and create an atmosphere inside of our football stadium that rivals anyone in the SEC,” he concludes. “At the end of the day, that is going to help the Missouri Tigers compete in the SEC and, ultimately, win championships.”
The Tigers of Mizzou host their next home game vs. SEC foe, University of South Carolina, this Saturday, September 21 at 3 p.m. ET