Texas installs gigantic new video board
AUSTIN, Texas -- Its nickname is Godzillatron.
Frankly, no other word would do justice to the monstrous new football stadium scoreboard at Texas.
Towering over the south end zone at 55 feet tall and 134 feet wide, it is more than just a Texas-sized upgrade of the scoreboard at Royal-Memorial Stadium, home of the defending national champions.
It is nearly as wide as the field itself and will be, for a short time at least, the largest high-definition video display board in the world, school officials say.
And Texas players can't wait to watch super-sized replays of their touchdowns.
"Oh man, that thing's big," said wide receiver Quan Cosby. "At night, we don't need the lights, it's so bright."
Built by South Dakota-based Daktronics Inc., the $8 million scoreboard and accompanying sound system easily dwarf the old unit. It is the most visible change so far in a $150 million stadium renovation that will add about 10,000 seats in the north end zone, bringing capacity to just over 90,000 by 2008.
The last time Texas fans got to watch the old scoreboard, it was showing highlights of the 2005 national championship season. The new one will debut Sept. 2 when No. 3 Texas plays North Texas.
"The last board outlived its life," said UT athletics spokesman Nick Voinis. "Now look what we've got."
The board is so large it took some major adjustments just to get it in place.
For starters, the university had to upgrade its utilities capacity to supply the board with enough juice. Keeping it cool in the Texas heat was another issue.
Whether it's a typical 100-degree Texas afternoon or the heat generated by the board itself, both will damage the board over time. UT officials had to install 40 5-ton air conditioning units.
And for sheer size surprise, the support columns are as large as redwood tree trunks. The heads of the grounding bolts measure about 5 inches across.
"When they first starting building it, I thought it was going to be half the size that it is," said defensive end Tim Crowder. "When they kept adding more and more, I was like 'How big is this thing going to be?' "
When workers first started testing the lights and sound system, it created a buzz among the video game generation.
"The guys are talking about trying to hook up an Xbox to play games," Crowder said.
Daktronics spokesman Mark Steinkamp said the Texas scoreboard is the highest resolution screen the company has ever installed. The Godzillatron nickname appears to have originated on Texas fan Internet sites, and Steinkamp said he likes it.
"Maybe we should try to trademark it," he said.
Inspiration for Godzillatron came from a visit to old rival Arkansas in 2004. The Razorbacks had installed a 30-by-107 video board at their stadium, and Texas officials were impressed.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds strives to keep the Longhorns at the top of the heap when it comes to facilities -- "We are the Joneses" he likes to say -- and said he's pleased with the latest addition.
"When we got into it, I said 'Let's put one up that will make people in the new north end feel like they're sitting in their living room watching TV,"' Dodds said. "That's about how it will be."
For now, the video board is the largest in the world. UT officials say they're told that within a few months, a slightly larger one in Asia will own that designation.
Even so, in a state where size definitely matters, the Longhorn board will be bigger than a new one going up at Kyle Field at rival Texas A&M. That board measures 53 feet by 73 feet, said Alan Cannon, A&M's associate athletic director for media relations.
Cannon said he's ready for inevitable size comparisons between rivals. The Aggies play Texas in Austin on Nov. 24, when they'll get to see themselves on the big screen.
"Content is all that matters," Cannon said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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