STARKVILLE — Mississippi State went to Daktronics for a little more than just an upgrade because it wanted to make a statement.
When Daktronics sales representative Andrew Rice talked with MSU about a new video board at Dudy Noble Field/Polk-DeMent Stadium, the first option was to build a bigger version of the board that was already in place. That video board would have had a traditional, static line score at the bottom. Then MSU pushed for more — all video screen, no static space.
“They wanted a wow factor,” Rice said.
The search resulted in the largest video board in college baseball, which will debut at 4 p.m. today with the 2017 Bulldogs against No. 25 Texas Tech.
“The joke we made throughout was that when they go to replace this thing in seven to 10 years, it will still be the biggest one in college baseball,” Rice said.
The video board is 2,592 square feet, which is 260 percent larger than its predecessor at 720 square feet and 45 percent larger than the second-largest video board in college baseball at Arkansas. Daktronics spokesperson Justin Ochsner said the screen uses more than 1.5 million LED light bulbs and retains the definition to be categorized as high definition on the same standard used to categorize living room televisions.
The board also is capable of variable content zoning, meaning it can change between displaying things like highlights and statistics in some places while keeping other elements, such as a running line score, static on the screen in another.
It also had to be modified to sit in its current location.
“It sits in the east, which is the hardest place for a video board to sit because of the sun,” Rice said.
Because of that, Daktronics gave the board the ability to achieve brightness up to 11,000 nits (a large unit of measurement measuring brightness), so that it can be easily visible during day game. MSU can turn down the brightness for night games when it isn’t battling the sun.
All of that makes the video board impossible to ignore — at first.
“I drive through town and I see it from the middle of town,” MSU freshman pitcher Riley Self said. “It’s hard not to see it from everywhere.”
Said MSU outfielder Jake Mangum, “It’s going to be fun to light up when we play.”
The players said they have gotten used to the video board, but they hope their opponents will need to adjust when they play in Starkville.
“You put 15,000 fans in front of a team that’s not used to that and it’s definitely different,” Mangum said. “We’ll see. We’re excited.”
Said Self, “I don’t think they’re used to anything being that bright.”
The video board is the first part of the $55-million renovation of Dudy Noble Field/Polk-DeMent Stadium, which will continue as soon as the 2017 home schedule ends, be that in the regular season.
The size of the video board also has other uses, including recruiting.
“Anything you do that makes a statement as to how important the program is to the university and to the state as a whole is beneficial to the recruiting process,” MSU pitching coach Gary Henderson said.
There are NCAA rules limiting what MSU is allowed to put on the video board during the action. Live shots of action, such as a batter in the batter’s box during an at-bat, isn’t allowed. There also are rules against showing replays that may “incite the crowd, or distract a play,” including a brushback pitch, a coach arguing with an umpire, or fights.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson