With the fall approaching and some uncertainty surrounding the college sports landscape, Matt and I sat down with Ryan Kuzman, Daktronics sales representative, on The Daktronics Experience Podcast to talk about a few recent college projects that Daktronics has worked on as well as what Ryan is seeing as college campuses are planning to open up.
Justin: We’ve had some recent college projects that you’ve been involved with including Kansas State University. Ryan, can you elaborate on that project for us?
Yes, we have a long history at K-State going back into the early 1970s, they actually purchased one of our first Matside displays back in the early 70s. So, the history goes back a long way and we’ve had a very long relationship with those folks at K-State over the years. A lot of ADs have come and gone, but Gene Taylor is there now, a good friend of Daktronics, and we started discussing this project that has come up which is what they call the South End Zone Project. It’s a complete renovation of their south end zone that’s happening this summer. But going back even further, we did a project on the north end of the stadium that’s very similar. So, this project has kind of been a long time coming, and it has several different aspects.
They’ve always had this dream of extending the football stadium on the south side since it kind of is adjacent to their basketball arena. They wanted to use more of that space down there for both venues. They wanted to open it up and create a space that was connected so that you could have a club area or a communal area for season ticket holders/donors or sponsors on that end that could use it for both the arena as well as the stadium sports.
That discussion started quite a long time ago when they started to reach out to architects and other folks to start designing that. In those design discussions, we had always talked about what we would do since a lot of their existing audio system, as well as their primary scoreboard and video board, was on that end. The discussions started as what can we do to make that end look similar to what the north end looks like. So, we started to talk about display locations in the corners, similar to what’s on the north end, and we talked about the audio system and where that would reside. We were there early in the discussions to make sure they were prepared when they walked into some of those meetings and started the discussion about what the end zone would look like at the end.
Justin: So, you are doing the south end zone right now, is that gonna be the exact same size video display as in the north end zone?
Those displays will be exactly the same size as the north displays giving it a really cohesive look to the stadium. What we wanted to do was create that cohesive, really seamless look, rather than have something completely different on the north and the south end. So, that was the target, and we’re in the process of installing those video displays now.
The audio system I started installing in July, so we’re kind of fast-tracking everything. The building is kind of being constructed around our systems as well, and we’re trying to get a jump on getting everything ready for the season because we know that the building isn’t supposed to be finished until 2021. We’re kind of working around construction projects, but it’s working with some teams that we’re very comfortable with, and it’s going very well.
Matt: Can you tell us about another recent project that is noteworthy that you’ve worked on?
Of course. Mizzou, or the University of Missouri, is a good example of a project we finished last year with a very large video display in the bowl, some ribbon displays as well in the bowl but also included displays in some different areas. They had a very nice LED video display in their weight room. So, what they do is, if the coaches wanted to use that display, they can walk up to a box, plug in and they can use that display to show some game film or show something they wanted to get across to the student-athletes right there in the weight room if they wanted to.
So, they can kind of take over that display if they wanted to do, anytime they want. Or, they can just have it run through their centralized control system and push content that way. Very cool space and very underutilized area where we don’t see a lot of LED. That’s a pretty cool installation that we put into their weight room area.
We also have a huge display, a 3.9mm display, in their club area, that’s extremely large. They break it up into three quadrants and use it three different configurations. They’ve actually windowed that display out in a way that’s pretty cool for how they use their broadcast technology.
Then, we also added a display in their lobby, so when you walk into the building you get LEDs right in your face. It’s a really cool installation because if you’re a season ticket holder and you get to your seat by walking through that lobby, you’re gonna get some game-day content that’s really hitting you right when you get to the building. So, it’s a really cool application and an awesome spot to put more LED displays.
Matt: You’ve been talking about these recent projects, but can you tell us any trends you’re seeing that might be different from what you’ve seen in years past?
Yeah, the trend that we’re seeing in college athletics, and new construction in particular in college athletics, is using the space for things that are outside of the bowl, things that aren’t necessarily the norm today or becoming the norm as of this time that we’re in. So, what we’re seeing is a lot of displays going into areas that are like clubs, above bar areas, above concession areas, in concourse areas, in lobbies – those are becoming very prominent right now in college athletics and new construction.
We started to see that trend in the major league sports division probably somewhere starting around five years ago. We started to see those common areas become more popular. They wanted to see some LED displays in those areas and it has started to finally bleed into the college athletics atmosphere as well. So, it’s a really cool trend because you can really give a bland, what I would consider a bland area like a lobby or someplace that doesn’t get a whole lot of pop, you can really create some excitement by adding a video display or an LED display in those areas.
Justin: Have you seen the technology spilling outside of the stadium itself at the college level like marquees or something else as people are approaching the stadium?
Yeah, we also included a marquee display in this K-State project as well. They had a very old Daktronics Galaxy display that had been there for quite a long time. We had always talked about replacing it, but it never quite got to the point that they were gonna do it. We were able to do that as part of this project. They actually got some outdoor signage along with what we’re doing in the bowl, and in the club area, they also were able to include some outdoor signage. We’re seeing that as a trend as well.
For example, the University of Missouri has a billboard just outside of their arena and they also have some signage around campus as well. It’s becoming a trend and it’s sprouting out into these areas where we had seen a lot of opportunities before and are now becoming very prevalent and becoming very popular for those customers.
To hear the full conversation, listen to this episode of the podcast on YouTube by clicking here.