New Basalt High School videoboard to be a first for the Western Slope region
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
When Basalt High School seniors celebrate their graduation in May, they may not be the only stars of the show.
If all goes according to plan, the event will serve as a grand opening of sorts for the school’s newest addition, a state-of-the-art videoboard and sound system for the football field. To the best knowledge of the company creating the board, Daktronics, it is the first high-resolution billboard of its kind for high school on the Western Slope, and the one Basalt is installing will hold the most modern technology of any at the high school level in the state.
It will serve athletics and other school functions — such as events like graduation — in addition to creating an additional revenue stream through advertising and enable Longhorn students to dive into a new educational field in game day production, giving them a leg up on much of their competition once they graduate.
“In the state of Colorado, it’s one of the first schools of their size to do this type of project with newer technology and visibility,” Daktronics regional sales representative Scott Dieck said.
Daktronics is the lead scoreboard producer in the state, ranging from high schools to colleges and even Coors Field and Ball Arena in the professional landscape.
Basalt will keep a fixed-number scoreboard and add the new video scoreboard behind the opposite end zone.
Denver’s Mullen High School is the only dedicated high school in the state with a similar videoboard and sound system combination, but Basalt’s has a higher quality that will allow for extra-sport events like movie nights and community events.
”It’s a huge thing for Basalt in multiple ways,” said BHS Athletic Director Jason Santo, the project’s driver.
Beyond pushing for the creation of the scoreboard, Santo is leading the creation of classwork around the newest asset.
He said Daktronics was selected as the partner on the project partially because they provide education on creating graphics, utilizing the board software and organizing game day production, like creating game scripts.
The belief is that producing games will not only get more students engaged in the athletics department at Basalt, but give Longhorns interested in sports media experience and an advantage as they go into college and internship processes.
Andrew Wilkie didn’t have a video scoreboard to play with at Geneva High School in Geneva, Illinois, where he was a student of Santo. He created hype videos for the school’s teams and game day graphics, but their publication was limited to Twitter, despite his pleas to the athletic director there for a live option.
Even though he never got his wish, Wilkie — now a freshman at West Virginia — was able to use his experience to land an internship with the college’s athletics department — a position he said was normally reserved for upperclassmen.
“It’s so great because the amount of people I’m at school with right now either have never touched a camera or just been like, ‘I want to try this out,’” Wilkie said. “It opens up so many opportunities and really gets students involved.”
Wilkie has discussed the project with Santo from afar. He isn’t sure what his role in Basalt’s new scoreboard will be, but he will be involved. He said it may be anywhere from just creating graphics to assisting Santo with the education of students.
He added that it can be an avenue for students to learn a diverse media skill set, including videography, graphic design and production design.
Costs covered in time
Financially, Santo said the board is supposed to pay for itself and eventually become a revenue stream for the athletics program. Basalt has secured sponsors for static advertisement placement along the bottom of the board and has the capability to run sponsor videos on the board midgame.
He said the cost of installation of the board should be paid off in five years, after which it will begin to turn a profit if sponsorships hold. The high school has already secured local sponsors in Alpine Bank, Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s, Double D Property Management, Academy Mortgage, Mitchell and Company, Valley Ortho, All Valley Storage, Schlumberger Scherer Construction, and Colorado Extreme.
Most visiting teams to Basalt won’t have the experience of their face plastered on a videoboard as they take the field, hype music blaring.
The new scoreboard is naturally going to change how athletics are done at Basalt, including moving the soccer teams to the football field.
“It almost elevates the whole program,” Wilkie said. “A team comes in and you roll out with this sweet entrance video, they’re already like, ‘Oh, shoot, this is legit.’ Your team could be terrible, but if you can roll out an awesome video, it already gives you that competitive advantage.”
Arrival of the board is expected in March and testing will begin shortly after.
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Like most high school sports programs across the nation right now, Garfield County athletics directors are seeing fewer applicants for open coaching positions. Five years ago vacant positions were filled within just a couple of days.