The University of Montana's basketball digs are going to be upgraded with a new state-of-the-art video board.
The university last week received approval from the Board of Regents to replace the center hung board at Dahlberg Arena. The new board will have replay technology and, with an estimated cost of $850,000, will be financed entirely by UM's broadcast rights partner Learfield Sports.
"We're designing the scoreboard now and hope to have it all done and installed this summer," Montana athletic director Kent Haslam said. "It won't cost the university anything. It will all be paid for through a contribution to us by Learfield, so that's exciting."
The existing center hung scoreboard is 13 years old and does not have live video capabilities. The new system will be configured for use during sporting events, trade shows and concerts.
"It will be nice to have four big video screens you can see throughout the arena," Haslam noted. "It will be high-def and will look a lot more modern, like what we have in the football stadium.
"There will be an LED rung below the video board. It will be much larger than we have now. It will also open up more opportunities to sell sponsorships and advertising."
The new board will hang a few feet lower than the existing board but still well within the guidelines set by the NCAA. Haslam stressed Learfield's contribution may only go toward the scoreboard and "it's not an either-or thing."
And why does Learfield care about the scoreboard at Dahlberg Arena?
"We sell our multi-media rights," Haslam noted. "We come to an agreement and they give us a guarantee and we share in revenue above and beyond a certain threshold.
"They have a vested interest in creating more inventory to sell. You can put in more advertising that's dynamic."
Learfield also paid for the $1.3 million video scoreboard upgrade at Washington-Grizzly Stadium last summer, and the installation of ribbon video boards at the football stadium a few years earlier at a total cost of about $500,000.