A sporting event isn’t just about watching a group of athletes on opposing teams compete.
It’s about an experience.
New renovations at Stabler Arena are looking to give fans an enhanced experience that will make the culture of attending sporting events engaging.
“Over the years we started having some glitches and malfunctions because the technology was so old,” said Allen Biddinger, the director of athletic facilities and events. “It started to become difficult to find parts to make repairs.”
The upgrades made at Stabler include new LED video scoreboards, LED displays for the scorer table, LED shot clocks, a countdown clock in the locker room and two new competition baskets.
The video scoreboard is used to display the score during the game, but with the new technology and upgrades, a team intro video is also played before the game. The video board enhances the connection with the fans and allows for people attending to engage in the event by seeing themselves on the screen, opening up options for fan participation.
In both corners of the arena are new LED scoreboards, which allow fans sitting on either side of the arena to be able to see the score. The shot clocks are now three sided to face all sides of the arena, instead of just one.
Besides the LED displays and technological upgrades, there are now two new competition baskets, which are the same as those used in the NCAA Final Four games. While the fans might not notice the difference, the baskets have a longer arm and a base that is further back. Because of this, there is now more room on the end lines which increases player safety.
Biddinger said the upgrades were finalized and put into motion during last spring and summer, and the total installation of all the upgrades took about four months.
“It was a 16-week prep and installation,” said Rich Haas, the assistant athletic director for sales and marketing. “It was a few months of figuring out the economics, figuring out the logistics, how we would operate, selecting a vendor and installation schedule.”
Biddinger said the installation process hit no snags and finished ahead of schedule.
Although the renovations took place during the summer when students were out of school, teams still held summer training sessions and camps in Stabler Arena. Whenever there was practice being held, installation would be halted, Biddinger said, which kept the interference with practice to a minimum.
“We were able to work with the installer to coordinate,” Biddinger said. “They basically would stop working when practices would start, so they would get here at 6 in the morning and go until about 3:30 or 4 p.m., but the biggest impact (installation had) on our teams was that the scoreboards had to be removed to be replaced with the video boards.”
This was not only because of the noise that would disrupt practice but also for safety reasons of practicing during construction.
With basketball season just getting started, Haas and Biddinger are looking forward to seeing the reaction that fans have to all of the improvements.
There have only been a few games this season, so it is hard to tell exactly the reaction that has come from it so far, they said, but they plan on recording attendance numbers to help gauge progress. They are also coming out with a press release that will help spread the word to students, faculty and fans about everything Stabler Arena now has to offer.
“The hope is that it will greatly increase the fan experience and be more interactive and more exciting,” Haas said.