Whatever the moment, fans in the north portion of Memorial Stadium wanting to see a replay had two options: turn around or squint more than 100 yards to smaller video boards on the south side of the field.
“The north (seats) were probably the least desirable seats, so to speak,” said David Witty, Nebraska’s senior associate athletic director for marketing and communications. “But now with this, it’s a great enhancement for North Stadium.”
“This” is a pair of wraparound video boards perched in the northwest and northeast corners of the stadium. Each consists of a pair of 21-by-24-foot screens connected by a 9-foot radius — all in Super HD.
The upgraded displays are among a variety of new amenities the athletic department will unveil Saturday for Fan Day, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and gives visitors the chance to meet coaches and players and get autographs before the first practice of fall camp Sunday morning. “Lego Batman” will show on the video boards beginning at 8:30 p.m. Saturday to cap the event.
Teams recognize and continue to fight fan temptation to stay home to watch games on TV. Texas, for example, introduced alcohol sales in 2015 and announced this month that Corona would become an official sponsor. Missouri recently scheduled one-hour concerts by nationally recognized artists before each home contest. Iowa and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs are offering more affordable season tickets available only through mobile devices.
Nebraska’s latest effort begins with the boards — updated for the first time since 2006 — which Witty said are unlike any setup he’s seen. Longtime Nebraska contractor Mitsubishi came up with the design at the school’s request — it models a project the company completed in New York’s Times Square — and executed the concept with the help of various local businesses.
Demolition for the entirety of the $6.25 million project began April 17 after the spring game and construction is set to conclude before the Sept. 2 home opener. On Thursday, some scaffolding on the boards and repainting along the steps were among final touchups.
“We’re always looking for different ways to welcome fans,” Witty said. “It’s important that whatever we do here with our game presentation throughout the stadium, we’re always thinking about the fans’ experience and making this the place to be. As much as there is with TV and all of that, some of the moments we’ve had here over the years, you can be watching at home, but it’s not the same.”
Like the smaller video displays in all four corners of the facility, the main North Stadium board boasts a crisper image after being upgraded from 20-millimeter to 10-millimeter pixels. It remains at its same 118-by-33.5-foot dimensions.
A pair of ribbon boards also will be featured along the east and west balconies. The lower boards stretching 380 feet replace shorter ones, while new upper boards have been installed and measure 471 feet long. The upper board in East Stadium is where the academic All-American and sellout streak figures had been displayed, though Witty said those numbers will be moved to a higher facade.
“Between the wi-fi and the sound system and now the new video boards, it’s a great opportunity to come with a great game-day product,” Witty said.
» Some seats will be wider this season. Rows 80 and above in North Stadium expand from 18 inches to 22 to 24. Section 14 in South Stadium grows seat space in rows 16 through 98 from 18 inches to 20 to 22. Witty said the expansion was done in response to requests.
“If we get fan feedback, seat comfort is right there at the top,” Witty said. “We’ve got to continue to look at that as one of the top priorities for fan experience.”
» The wraparound boards can display the same image on either side or stretch one image across the entire screen.
» There will be 11 merchandise outlets this fall, nearly triple from last year. The East Stadium store will be open daily from 10 to 4 after previously operating on Fridays and game days. Another store is set to open at the College of Business Administration on Aug. 18.
» Renovations to football offices off the North Stadium concourse will be complete within a week, Witty said. The offices will likely be for graduate assistants and video personnel. Four arches flank each side of the brick-and-concrete main structure with “NEBRASKA FOOTBALL” engraved above double doors. Each arch will be filled by LED panels rotating player images. Another arch will show Husker uniforms.
» The clear-bag policy is a new security measure Nebraska is taking for all events beginning this fall. Full details are available at huskers.com/bagpolicy.
» Fan Day will be Saturday night. It had previously been Wednesdays or mid-afternoon Fridays.
» The one-year-old video boards that occupied the north corners of the stadium will be moved to the softball complex and ready for use this fall.
» Adidas unveiled an alternate uniform design in honor of Nebraska’s 1997 championship team. A mannequin wearing the full uniform — which the Huskers will don Oct. 7 against Wisconsin — will be in the North Stadium lobby Friday and Saturday.