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U. stadium gets bigger scoreboard, better sound system

SALT LAKE CITY — Anyone driving on 500 South by Rice-Eccles Stadium has probably seen it: a new giant video scoreboard.

But it’s not just a big video screen. It’s also a brand new sound system that university officials say will enhance the fan experience.

The scoreboard went up a few weeks ago and testing has been going on since then. The new board replaces the previous board, which was built in 2004. After 10 years, it became expensive to repair and keep in good working order, university officials said.

The new $13.5 million board is 122 feet wide, 64 feet tall and has 2.6 million pixels, making it one of the bigger boards in the country.

“It's an LED board, so it's meant to be able to enhance the video most of all, but it'll also be able to have other graphics, images, advertising, and it can move in and out when necessary,” University of Utah spokeswoman Maria O’Mara.

Along with the video enhancements on the screen, a new digital surround sound system has been installed, with 130 speakers throughout the stadium — even in the bathrooms.

Previously, all speakers were mounted on the old scoreboard structure.

“So the sound basically came from the south end zone and moved across the stadium, in one direction, and that caused problems,” O’Mara said. “There are areas right outside the stadium where there are dead zones, but then we would have neighbors far away who could really hear what was going on because the sound was just one big massive blast.”

The money for the board did not come from tuition or taxpayer dollars, she said. It was paid by ticket sales and auxiliary services, “so basically the people who enjoy it are the people who are paying for it,” O’Mara said.

The opening event for the video board and sound system will be at the stunt driving Nitro World Games on July 16. Ute football fans will get their first look at it at the home opener Sept. 1.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc