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Tampa Bay Lightning's new scoreboard will be picture perfect

Published Jul. 15, 2012

Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he really is not looking forward to seeing his face on the new scoreboard at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"If I can avoid it, perfect," he said, laughing.

Boucher's mock anxiety is understandable. The high-definition Daktronics scoreboard will be the largest single-hung board in the United States and Canada, so any flaw in the skin, any hair out of place will be impossible to miss.

"He's going to need some makeup," joked Steve Griggs, chief operating officer for the Lightning and Times Forum.

The scoreboard, expected to be installed by Sept. 23, is yet another part of the transformation of the 16-year-old building.

It began last summer with a renovation that, with the final accounting done, cost $42 million, the team said — $2 million more than previously announced.

The scoreboard is another $5 million, all paid for by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.

"With the scoreboard and everything we've done, it makes it almost like a new building," Griggs said.

Replacing the old scoreboard had become a priority.

Lightning-game regulars no doubt noticed the small but annoying black rectangular dead spots that marred the video display. But Tampa Bay's decision to go with a megaboard serves an even greater purpose, said Brent Stevens, Daktronics' national sales manager for professional sports.

"In the sports industry worldwide, one of the big things that teams and facilities are coming up against is how do you compete in arenas, in stadiums, with the entertainment that you can get at home?" Stevens said. "You can buy your own beer. You can make your own food. You've got a $2,000 HD TV sitting on the wall. So how does the team get you to come experience it live?

"You have to have people be able to watch high definition in the arena, and that's what the Lightning is doing. They're going to give you that in-home experience, but 50 feet across."

• The lengthwise LED video boards will be 50 feet wide, 28 feet high. Those facing the arena ends will be 20 feet wide, 28 feet high. The current video board is 28 feet wide, 16 feet high on each side, meaning the new scoreboard will have 3,920 square feet of video display capability compared with 1,792 square feet with the current board.

• The lengthwise video boards will have 1,296 horizontal lines of resolution, or pixels, and 2,304 vertical. A standard HD TV is 1,080 by 1,920, Stevens said.

• The video boards will be able to present 144 quadrillion (144 with 15 zeros) shades of color, the team said.

• The scoreboard weighs 68,000 pounds — the old board 40,000. Though the arena roof did not need reinforcement, Griggs said a new hoist system (price included in the $5 million) was necessary to lift and hold the scoreboard in place.

• The video boards will be integrated with the existing LED ribbons circling the arena bowl, creating "a seamless presentation fans will really enjoy," Griggs said.

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The bottom line, though, will be the picture quality, Stevens said:

"You will not be able to tell the difference if you were sitting 5 feet away from your TV at home or 50 feet away from the (scoreboard) hanging from the ceiling."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com. View his blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.