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Behind the scenes at Webster Bank Arena

Wow, that thing’s huge!

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The arena's new videoboard was unveiled Nov. 11.

That “thing” is Webster Bank Arena’s massive, brand new, center-hung videoboard. It’s an 18,000-pound monster made of millions of blinking LED lights, operated by a specially-constructed Sony control room that would make NASA envious.

Since the high-definition board debuted November 11, thousands of people have seen it in action and were amazed. This is one of the largest videoboards in a mid-sized arena in the nation. Daktronics built two side panels 30 feet wide and 15 feet high. The two end panels are 13 feet wide and 10 feet high. It’s bigger than the scoreboard at TD Bank arena in Boston.

What isn’t well known is the story of how the board came to be and how it was installed, in the middle of a raging hurricane that knocked out the arena’s power. So here’s the inside look at our pride and joy, the biggest toy we’ve ever played with.

Webster Bank Arena opened in 2001 without what most arenas have: a center-hung scoreboard, which most refer to as a Jumbotron. Not having one saved money, but it limited the arena experience. Over the years, more arenas installed fancy, flashing ribbon boards around the perimeter of the arena bowl. All we had was a case of arena envy.

When Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment, LLC took over the arena in March 2011, one of the first things we did start planning for the purchase of a center-hung videoboard and ribbon boards. One and a half years and $3.5 million dollars later, the first crates began arriving at our loading dock.

Workers bolt the frame together

The installation was deceptively simple. A hardworking crew bolted the the metal frame together on the floor of the arena. Prefabricated LED panels, 64 of them, were bolted to the frame. Then came the delicate part: hardwiring it to the control room and hoisting it to the ceiling by a massive winch. Much of that happened shortly before and right after Hurricane Sandy, when most of the region was without power. The arena lost power for one day, which kept us on schedule for the debut at the Nov. 11 Sound Tigers game.

LED panels were bolted to the finished frame

We’ve had lots of oohs and aahs since the boards erupted to life in a riot of color and flashing graphics. We’re now a modern arena, and replays of hockey hits, basketball dunks and livestreamed screaming guitars are thrilling fans.

It feels good to have someone envy us for a change.

Categories: General

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