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Ralph Engelstad Arena to install the 'largest center-hung video board in college hockey'

Ralph Engelstad Arena will install in the offseason a new center-hung video board that it says will be the largest in college hockey. The video board will be 34 feet wide and 15.5 feet high -- roughly twice the size of the current video board (16...

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Ralph Engelstad Arena will install in the offseason a new center-hung video board that it says will be the largest in college hockey.

The video board will be 34 feet wide and 15.5 feet high -- roughly twice the size of the current video board (16 feet wide, 9 feet high).

The main video board -- which will be split up into four equal sides -- also will have video rings around the top and bottom of the main screen.

Ralph Engelstad Arena says it will eclipse the size of all other video boards in college hockey in terms of total square footage of video space. Northeastern’s new scoreboard is longer on the sides of the arena (50 feet wide, 13.5 feet high), but smaller on the ends (13.5 feet wide, 9.5 feet high) and in total square footage.

The Ralph also will replace the fascia ribbon going around the arena, put screens above each tunnel to the main bowl, install LED lighting, add high-definition cameras and replace much of the equipment in the video control room.

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The entire project will cost $6 million, according to The Ralph. The Engelstad Foundation has committed $4 million to the project. The other $2 million will come out of The Ralph’s longterm repair and replacement reserve fund.

"We're very happy to help fund this project," Kris McGarry said in a statement. "The fan experience is extremely important to my family. We remain committed to the UND hockey team and to the fans that are the lifeblood of the hockey program. We also know that time stands still for no one. We share the vision of the arena's management team to make sure that Ralph Engelstad Arena remains one of the most technologically advanced arenas in the country."

The new video board will be installed by Daktronics after the Shrine Circus leaves Ralph Engelstad Arena in late April. The aim is to have it completely installed by the end of June to allow time for testing before the hockey season begins.

“We want to make sure we have plenty of time to finalize content and do all of the tweaking,” said Jody Hodgson, general manager of Ralph Engelstad Arena. “I think people’s expectations will be pretty high when they come for that first game in October.”

Hodgson said they looked at 40 or 50 of the most recent video boards when deciding what to go with for its new one.

“What did Tampa do?” Hodgson said. “What did the Milwaukee Bucks do? The Golden State Warriors? What did the Red Wings do? We said here’s what we like, here’s what we don’t like, here’s what we prefer.”

The Ralph opted against a Northeastern-style or Tampa Bay Lightning-style scoreboard -- massive on two sides, small on the two ends -- in favor of the equal-on-all-sides setup.

“We chose to go with that square framework with curved sides to make sure everyone in the arena had a similar viewing experience,” Hodgson said.

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ABOUT THE VIDEO BOARD

The main video board will have a seam in one corner, but the entire thing is one screen with rounded corners. It will allow for the screen to be split up however arena officials decide. The mock-up includes advertising in the corners, but that’s not necessarily how it will be used.

The current four-sided video boards, which were installed in 2011, will be moved to the ends of the arena -- two on the north, two on the south. They will be re-purposed and re-used there. One idea, Hodgson said, is to have more detailed in-game statistics on those screens.

“We can use them in a lot of different ways,” Hodgson said.

Ralph Engelstad Arena also will install a new fascia ribbon that rings around the arena between the upper and lower levels. It will allow for much more detailed graphics such as player cards.

“It’s going to be much clearer,” Hodgson said. “It will be like going from a 20-year-old TV to a new, high-definition TV. The size will be the same, but you’ll notice the clarity and legibility of text and images will be much better. It will be much brighter and much clearer and cleaner.”

Hodgson said fans will notice the LED lighting system.

“It’s going to produce a whiter light,” Hodgson said. “There will be more directed light on the playing surface and you have an opportunity to create what I call a theater-like atmosphere. Some arenas are bright on the playing surface and have less lighting in the seating area. We’ll have the ability to produce that effect if we want to.

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“It will also be better on TV. It will reduce glare and eliminate shading. It will be more TV-friendly than the current lights.”

The cameras and control room will be upgraded in order to fully utilize the capabilities of the new video screens.

“In addition to the recruiting value that comes from playing in a world-class arena, I also know that the new video boards will help us with our efforts to create an unmatched home-ice advantage at the Ralph,” UND coach Brad Berry said in a statement. “We love playing in front of capacity crowds and the new video boards are certainly going to add to the game atmosphere that allows us to continue growing our fan base. Just like our fans, I can hardly wait to see the new technology live in person next season.

“We're extremely appreciative of the support from the Engelstad Foundation and we're honored to see their ongoing investment in the arena and our hockey program."

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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