The Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Class AA; Southern League) have announced plans to install a new videoboard for the 2017 season. The project is the result of a collaboration between the Blue Wahoos, the Community Maritime Park Associates (CMPA), and the the University of West Florida (UWF).
At a cost of $235,000, the new video board is 26.3 feet tall – more than 10 feet taller than the previous video board at Wahoos Stadium – and is 30.5 feet wide, giving it a display area of 802 square feet, a 74.3 percent increase in size over the current board.
The new and improved board will debut on Thursday, April 6, as the Blue Wahoos open their 2017 season against the Tennessee Smokies at 6:35 p.m.
Two key factors went into the effort to replace the current scoreboard. The first is that technology has changed greatly since 2012, and the commitment of the Blue Wahoos organization to providing the best fan experience possible played a vital role in paying $120,000 of the cost and financing the remaining balance interest free.
From there, the CMPA will contribute $20,000 annually for five years ($100,000) and UWF will contribute $5,000 annually for three years ($15,000).
“When we coupled the mechanical issues with our current board with what the new boards looked like during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Washington D.C., we thought about how great it would be to make this happen for the park,” Blue Wahoos co-owner Quint Studer said. “We appreciate the collaboration between the CMPA, UWF and the Wahoos to make this idea come to fruition and deliver a better experience for our fans.”
The second key factor was that the warranty had expired on the stadium’s old video board, which had been experiencing consistent and increasing malfunctioning in recent months. The cost of maintenance and upkeep on the old board was estimated to cost $125,000 over the next five years, or $25,000 more than what the CMPA is contributing for the new board over the same time span. The plausibility of that estimate was confirmed by city staff during the February CMPA board meeting and by the video board’s manufacturer.
The CMPA, which is responsible for providing a working scoreboard in its lease with the team, could have been saddled with open-ended maintenance costs to a rapidly depreciating video board, an issue that will not arise with the new video board having a new 10-year guarantee starting in 2017, making the commitment a fiscally responsible one for the city and the CMPA.
“We looked at this as a win-win-win for the city, the CMPA and sports in the city of Pensacola,” CMPA chairman Jim Reeves said. “I think the CMPA wins because we end up with a 10-year warranty instead of an expired five-year warranty with a state-of-the-art sign at our award-winning park that will be the best in the Southern League.”
For the University of West Florida, the new technology will not only enhance game days downtown, it will bolster the team’s recruiting efforts as one of the nation’s most picturesque NCAA Division II football venues gets further improvement.
“We are very excited about the board and how it will enhance the game day experience for our fans at Wahoos Stadium,” UWF head football coach Pete Shinnick said. “Our kids will be so excited to run out of the tunnel next season and see themselves on the new and improved big screen.”