Editor’s note: San Diego State aims to build its new 35,000-capacity stadium in time for the football team’s season opener against Arizona — Sept. 3, 2022 — which is now 212 days away. The Union-Tribune is doing monthly updates tracking the stadium’s progress.
Aging SDCCU Stadium, while very much beloved, had its issues.
Antiquated video boards may have been at the top of the list.
Most spectators never visited the stadium’s outdated suites and many weren’t aware of crumbling infrastructure unless it rained.
But just one look at the video boards was all it took to realize how outdated and inferior they were for enjoying replays or simply providing information.
SDSU officials at one point approached their counterparts from the professional football team that used to share the facility and offered to share the cost of new video boards in order to enhance the game-day experience.
The offer was declined.
There’s one excellent way to get new video boards — purchase the land and build a new stadium of your own.
One of the bright new features of Snapdragon Stadium will be state-of-the-art video boards — a pair of them — which for fans will be like going from a TV with a picture tube to a flat screen with HD.
“I’m excited about the two scoreboards. … I’m pretty pumped,” SDSU head coach Brady Hoke said.
Snapdragon will feature a main LED video board in the southeast corner of the stadium (positioned for Aztecs fans sitting on the west — home — side) that measures 42 feet tall by 73 feet wide.
An auxiliary video board in the northwest corner (for fans sitting on the east side) will be 26 feet tall by 50 feet wide.
The primary board is the third-largest in the Mountain West behind Colorado State (50’ x 84’) and Wyoming (38′ x 84′), though neither of those stadiums has an auxiliary board.
Framing for both boards was started months ago. Secondary steel will be brought in later this month and installation for the actual boards is planned for early March.
The boards were originally to be installed late last year, but delayed in order to limit construction dust that may find its way inside the boards.
The Daktronics boards will be 10 mm pixel, which is the industry standard now for outdoor sports venues (older products were closer to 20 mm). The lower the number, the better the resolution for the display.
“It’s going to create a really good visualization from the standpoint of the pixilation,” said Derek Grice, SDSU’s executive associate athletic director of Mission Valley development. “The sizes are perfect for our venue and our ability technology-wise to have the latest in technology and video operations equipment allows us to do some pretty cool things.”
The boards will allow SDSU to play prerecorded or live video, replays and sponsorship messaging, of course.
They also will enable up-to-the minute stats, drive charts and player statistics.
All the things fans come to expect, including seeing themselves splashed across the screen.
One problem with the older boards at SDCCU Stadium was that it was difficult to see what was on them during certain daylight conditions.
Technological advancements have resolved most of the issues with brightness and contrast.
According to its website, Daktronics technology also makes a better “off-angle” viewing experience, so fans who may not have a straight-on angle at the boards still see the images clearly.
And one more thing.
Ever go to a venue where it’s difficult to use your cell phone? The cause may have been related to electromagnetic interference (EMI) created by technology used at the venue.
“If EMI isn’t managed during component choice and display design, large-scale video displays can pose a great risk to cell signal performance in your stadium,” according to Daktronics. “We do extensive research and testing on ours to make sure they do not interfere. That is something that we test in our own reliability labs to make sure it does not interfere with government frequencies or first responders.”
Or interfere with fans using their smart phones.
Grice said the venue also will include 1,700 linear feet of “ribbon boards,” which will be located in the upper and mid-bowl on the west side and upper façade on the east as well as north and south end zones. Additionally, there will be four red zone boards in the corners of the field near the goal lines.
“There’s a lot of flexibility there instead of having traditional static signage,” Grice said. “It also allows us the flexibility with events for other tenants and other partners who come in.
“It allows us to change the configuration easily for soccer, as opposed to football, lacrosse, rugby. You name it, it allows us to change the configuration inside the bowl to meet the specific needs of the event.”
Seat installation ongoing
Seat installation is well underway at Snapdragon Stadium, with light gray, dark gray and red seats placed in the south end zone and west upper deck at this point.
Grice said they didn’t want to install all red seats because that color fades quickly and there was concern about the look down the road as newer seats were interspersed with older seats.
The seat install will continue in a clockwise direction over the next two months.
Some of those who have peeked in on progress through the stadium construction cam have wondered if there is a particular pattern with the seat colors.
No, it’s not an SDSU or Snapdragon logo.
“Aesthetically the pixilated pattern is something you see more and more of in stadiums,” Grice said. “We were intentional in creating a pixilated pattern that kind of plays off the architectural angles that you see in the stadium, the trapezoidal patterns.
“There is some practical application in that certain events, when you have less people in the stadium … it reads better on television.”
Legion coming to Snapdragon
The San Diego Legion announced Wednesday evening they will be playing at Snapdragon Stadium beginning with the 2023 Major League Rugby season.
The Legion will use the SDSU Sports Deck this season as their temporary home. The 16-game season runs from Sunday through May and includes eight home games.