The “Friday Night Experience” has just gotten a little bit better at Memphis University School (MUS) with the installation of a new, state-of-the-art LCD screen, digital scoreboard at Stokes Stadium. It is the first one of it’s kind here in the Mid-South and officials at MUS feel that its something that many other schools will look into possibly getting, because in the long run it will eventually “pay for itself.”
A few different factors led to MUS deciding to invest in a new scoreboard. The first reason is because the company, Pepsi-Cola, that sponsored the Owls previous light bulb scoreboard is wanting to get out of the high school sponsoring business and focus on other things. The second reason is that the old one was not as reliable as it once was and many people around the school felt that it was time for a change.
When the decision was finally made to purchase a new scoreboard, Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Bobby Alston, Business Operations Director Rankin Fowlkes, and the Board of Trustees looked at many different options, as well as talked with other high schools around the country about what the best choice would be. After is was all said and done, they decided to go with a leader in the industry, Daktronics. Many well known athletic venues, for example University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium and Memphis’ own FedExForum have scoreboards provided by Dektronics, as well as high schools in Texas and Georgia. The screen itself is 11×20 and cost $184,000, with installation done internally, keeping the costs at just around $200,000.
Fowlkes said the hardest part of the whole process was bascially “keeping fact and fiction straight.” What he meant by that is to make sure everybody that was involved with MUS, which includes students and their families, was well informed about everything that was going on before any type of information was leaked out or rumors were started. This is where Director of Communications Vicki Tyler helped out by keeping the lines of communications open between the staff and the families of students. One other thing that helped out communication was “The Headmaster’s Message” in the August 2010 issue of MUS Today. In the message, Headmaster Ellis Haguewood stresses that “No increases will be made to game fees. No tuition, endowment, or annual fund money was used to pay for this scoreboard.”
Many at MUS feel that it will take 6-8 years to pay for the scoreboard through advertising money. Most of the businesses that advertise currently are ones that usually advertise in their media guide. Fowlkes commented, “these busineses already know what we can provide for them and our clientele.” They tried it out and invited other businesses around the city at their fall scrimmage on August 6th.
Officials at MUS are also very excited about the many different options it gives them, not only at football games, but other uses down the road. Football games are, as Fowlkes put it, “a production in itself.” The production of the game is handled by Chad Holland of Visionary Digital Media, which also produces the games that are broadcast online at musowls.org. During the games fans do have the chance to check out instant replays and maybe even see themselves on the screen during breaks as the camera pans around the crowd. One of the other features is that in spring time when track events are held, they will be able to display all of the track times on the scoreboard at once when the race is finished.
The fact that the screen can be seen at both day and night also opens up more possibilities. Some events that have been discussed such as weekend events and when football season is over, movie nights on Fridays, so year round there could be a “Friday Night Experience” on Hull Dobbs Field at Stokes Stadium.
By Ben Hogan, Photo by Bradley Kolodzaike.