Big screen TV has taken on a whole new meaning with Spartan Stadium’s new scoreboards.

“They are absolutely beautiful,” said John Hawkins, a tailgater on the day of the Eastern Michigan game.

John Hawkins and his wife, Dale Hawkins, who are Michigan State University alumni, have been coming back to MSU since they graduated, and had only good things to say about the improvements to Spartan Stadium.

South end zone score board, as seen from outside the stadium. Photo credit: Heather Hartmann
“You can see them from everywhere,” Hawkins said about the scoreboards, admitting that he sometimes found himself watching the screen instead of the game. When asked if the boards were a big improvement, he did not hesitate in saying, “Absolutely.”

The Hawkins’ were with two other MSU alumni from the class of 1966, including Joe Watkins, who also commented on the scoreboards.

“I didn’t realize they had three of the scoreboards,” Watkins recalled. He had followed the construction online during the summer, but did not know there were three scoreboards until he went to a game. He dubbed them as “impressive.”

The new system as a whole consists of several different aspects. In the south end zone, there is a new 5,300 square foot scoreboard, nearly 5,000 square feet larger than the one it replaced. At the north end zone, two other video boards along with an LED ribbon board were added.

However, these “impressive” new scoreboards did not come easy, or cheap.

Greg Ianni, Deputy Athletics Director, said the construction schedule of the scoreboards was, “tight.”

“We had to fit it in-between seasons,” Ianni said.

Various steps, from approvals to drawings, to the actual construction itself, were squeezed into the time frame. On top of this, pieces for the scoreboards had to be shipped from all over the U.S. and the world, like the 2.3 million LED lights in the boards that came from Hong Kong.

The construction started in late April and continued with an aggressive schedule all summer.

Ten million dollars later, the scoreboards were ready to go one week before the Spartan’s opening game against Boise State on Friday, August 31.

“They are better than what I anticipated,” admitted Ianni.

He called the video boards “phenomenal,” although bugs are still being worked out of the system.

John Lewandowski, Associate Athletics Director, said, “We grow as we go.”

He stated that the new system has had to overcome communication issues in the past several games. However, he also noted that the scoreboards only came online a week before the first game.

“We are adding stuff as we go,” Lewandowski said. “We try to add elements to the board each week.”

He explained that the system has a large arsenal of toys to be used, like the stats package that they were planning to test out during the Eastern game.

“We are still getting the thing off the ground,” Lewandowski said.

Overall, Lewandowski said that it had been “time for a face lift.” He noted that the new boards replaced ones that were 14 years old, adding that it had come to a point where some parts in the old system could no longer be replaced.

“We do these renovations every 10-12 years,” Ianni added, noting that with the new system they had the, “next decade in mind.”

Lewandowski described the scoreboards in order to convey how large they were.

“On the board on the southern zone, you can fit a whole basketball court,” he stated, adding that there would still be nearly 600 square feet to spare. However, the massive size and funds are for more than looks.

Lewandowski noted how he wanted the fans to have an “interactive experience.”

“We are trying to bring to fans what those at home receive,” he said. “We want to add to the fun experience.”

Ianni noted that the new system also “changes the feel of the stadium.”

On top of the fans, Lewandowski also mentioned the new routine of player introductions and what the student athletes think of the scoreboards.

“Their response has been pretty positive as well,” he said. The new system seems to exceed expectations with its “great video, new sound system, and crystal clear picture,” as Lewandowski pointed out.

“We continue to try and enhance the fan experience,” he said.

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