Hockey fans who watch games at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena will soon be able to see instant replays and game action without having to strain their necks. A new four-sided Jumbotron-type scoreboard and an updated sounds system are en route to replace the outdated speakers and single screen currently used at the arena. The gear, purchased from another ECHL team that folded in January will likely be installed during the summer months, according to the Municipality of Anchorage.
A new scoreboard has been near the top of the priority list for both the Aces and the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves, who play home hockey games at the Sullivan Arena. The current scoreboard only shows the score and timekeeping data. Video replays are projected onto a large screen on one side of the arena, forcing fans to crane their necks to get a view. But replacing the arena's aging and outdated ice-making machine had taken priority over getting a new scoreboard. That work, funded by the Alaska Legislature last year, will begin this summer.
The Collosseo Cube Scoreboard Video Control Room and Timekeeping System bought by the Alaska Aces isn't new, but it hasn't been used for long. Until January, the gear hung inside the Cow Palace in San Francisco, Calif. It was purchased and installed in September of 2012 by the San Francisco Bulls, an ECHL team and San Jose Sharks affiliate that made a $2 million investment in improving the Cow Palace but folded in January. When the team went under, Aces co-owner Terry Parks bought the scoreboard, video and sound system, and timekeeping equipment, and began moving it toward Anchorage. The gear now sits in Seattle, waiting for a final date for installation at the Sullivan Arena. Parks said the Aces paid less than half the initial $1.3 million price tag forked over by the Bulls when they initially purchased the scoreboard.
"The deal came up when the Bulls went under," Parks said.
The equipment is on the cutting edge of scoreboard technology. It has four 8-by-8-foot video screens, offering spectators a 360 degree view of replays and game action. Its 20 computers can handle up to 16 video camera inputs and automatically log and show replays, including hits, goals, penalties, line calls and referee calls. It is the same model of scoreboard used recently at the Shayba Arena in Sochi, Russia, for the Winter Olympics. The sound system, including its 50 speakers that can blast out 50,000 watts of sound, was purchased by the Bulls from the rock band AC/DC. But it not make quite the difference that local concertgoers, who have complained for years about the Sullivan Arena's current sound setup, may want.
"The sound system will be installed for the arena, not for concerts," Parks said. Parks said the speakers will be hung, like the scoreboard itself, from the Sullivan Arena's roof, and will throw sound down at spectators from all angles. Concert sound systems generally push sound forward from the stage, out to the crowd.
Anchorage Municipal Manager George Vakalis said the city is working out the details on how to install the new equipment. The new scoreboard will require support work to the Sullivan Arena's roof girders, as well as new wiring and cables. Vakalis predicted it would be early summer -- a time when other work will begin on the Sullivan -- before the scoreboard can be installed. Vakalis also said the municipality is trying to decide whether it will buy or lease the gear from the Aces.
"The deal does not fall apart if (the municipality) does not buy the scoreboard," Vakalis said. Both Valkalis and Parks said that, once installed, the scoreboard will be available to anyone who uses the Sullivan Arena, from hockey teams to trade shows.