All the bells and whistles: Kent Events Center gets scoreboard

Thunderbirds fans should expect to be impressed in the months ahead, when a fancy scoreboard with video screens and graphics lights up at the Kent Events Center.

Daktronics employee Paul Winters stands by the Kent Event Center’s new display and scoreboard.

Daktronics employee Paul Winters stands by the Kent Event Center’s new display and scoreboard.

Thunderbirds fans should expect to be impressed in the months ahead, when a fancy scoreboard with video screens and graphics lights up at the Kent Events Center.

“It will be like a giant TV screen for the fans in the stands,” said Paul Winters, site superintendent for Daktronics, the South Dakota manufacturer of the scoreboard, speaking Friday at the events center.

Workers installed the scoreboard in the center of the arena last week. The video screens will be operating when the $84.5 million events center opens either late this year or early next.

The scoreboard is 19 feet high, and has four sides. Its four main video screens are 6 feet high and 12 feet wide. Four corner video screens on the board are 6 feet high and 2 feet wide.

Those screens will be getting a workout, thanks to the center’s anchor tenant, the Seattle Thunderbirds. The T-Birds will come to roost in Kent from their current home at KeyArena in Seattle. The city of Kent has a 30-year lease with the T-birds.

“This scoreboard looks awesome,” said Ian Henry, public relations director for the Thunderbirds, as he looked at the scoreboard Friday. “I think it will really add to the experience for hockey and for other events.”

Daktronics has manufactured and installed scoreboards at stadiums and arenas across the nation. Recent scoreboard projects by Daktronics in the Pacific Northwest include Reser Stadium at Oregon State University and Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. The company also installed the scoreboards for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team and the San Jose Sharks hockey team.

The scoreboard at the events center weighs 18,000 pounds and features eight advertising panels between the scoreboard statistics and the video screens. The board also has a bottom ring with four advertising panels.

The scoreboard can be programmed to show statistics for hockey, football or basketball games.

The video-screen programming options are limitless.

“You can play DVDs, TV feeds or animation,” Winters said. “Anything you can put on a laptop or TV, you can play.”

Live action as well as replays will be featured on the video screens during Thunderbirds games, Henry said.

The 6,025-seat arena is under construction at West James Street and Fifth Avenue North.

“We are on time,” said Tom Parks, field engineer for Mortenson Construction, the Minneapolis-based company building the arena. “The structure is up and now it’s the interior work.”

The seats are installed. The ice is expected to be put down by the end of November. Painting, electrical and plumbing projects remain to be finished.

“We feel very comfortable with where we are at,” Parks said.

Besides 40 or so Thunderbirds games per year, Disney on Ice, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Harlem Globetrotters have made reservations for shows in 2009 at the events center. Exact dates for those shows have yet to be confirmed.

City officials agreed Oct. 7 to a naming-rights contract for the events center with ShoWare by VisionOne, Inc., based in Fresno, Calif. ShoWare offers box-office services, including online ticket selling and distribution for events at sports arenas, theaters and performing arts centers. That contract must be approved by the Kent City Council. City staff has yet to set a date for a Council vote on the agreement.

Under the proposed agreement, ShoWare would pay the city $3.175 million for 10 years, or slightly more than $300,000 per year to get the company’s name on the events center.

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