After 31 years of hanging in the rafters, the scoreboard at Memorial Gymnasium has been upgraded.
A new video display on the board has been installed that will allow everyone in the gym to have a clear picture of the action, be it basketball or graduation.
“When you get 5,000 people in the gym and up in Section 9 where you get to corners and crannies ... it gets hard to see,” said Kokomo Schools Athletic Director Nick Sale. “Now we’ll be able to have a camera on stage where you can see your child walk across the stage.”
For the last five years, Kokomo Schools has partnered with FastPlaySports for live streaming services. With the new scoreboard comes new possibilities – such as instant replay – thanks to that partnership.
Sale also said students in the TV production classes at the Kokomo High School Career Center will be able to help with graphics.
Sound was also addressed during the project. Rather than continue with the previously used sound system in the middle of the gym, the new system will offer more of a surround-sound experience. There are also different settings for events such as games or graduations.
According to Sale, the usual life expectancy of a scoreboard like they had is 20 years, and finding parts to repair the board had started to become an issue. Kokomo Schools Communications Director Dave Barnes noted there wasn’t anyone making modules for the 31-year-old scoreboard.
Preserving history was important during the updates to maintain the atmosphere of the gym. For instance, the bottom graphic on the board is the same, and the corner panels still have the classic font.
“With technology, things change over time and we need to adjust. But you see some of these legendary stadiums like Assembly Hall … they’ve gone to the modernization with video boards and that’s just to create a nice fan experience,” Sale said. “We want that history to stay there because it’s important to us and the community.”
Boys’ varsity basketball coach Bob Wonnell is grateful that he and his team have this new update to their home court.
“The new overhead scoreboard at Memorial Gym is simply another example of the Kokomo community and Kokomo Schools placing a priority on extracurricular activities for our student body,” he said. “I remind our players all the time that they are privileged to have such facilities and opportunities provided to enhance their educational experience.”
Basketball is not the only sport benefiting from the project. There are also new wrestling mats, which will be used throughout the season, and in January when Memorial Gym hosts the girls’ wrestling state finals.
The new scoreboard and sound system are part of a large multi-gym project funded by roughly $622,000 granted by the Kokomo Redevelopment Commission. The Haworth Gym inside Kokomo High School is also getting a face lift.
“The floor, the bleachers, everything – it’s going to bring back the old Haworth look to it,” Sale said. “We thought that was a nice thing to do for the people who went to school here because this is essentially the old Haworth building ... “
The scoreboard will make its debut during the Wildkats’ home opener against Taylor High School at 7:30 p.m. tonight. The board will feature mainly basic operations, but as November goes on more features will be added. Sale is hopeful there will be more features unveiled for the boy’s basketball game against Western High School Nov. 26.
“It just takes a little time, but as the year goes on it’s only going to get better,” he said. “I think the experience … of all the fans will be significantly different when you walk in.”