Monday, September 04, 2006

Memorial Stadium: Good Intentions gone Bad

A few thoughts on the changes to Memorial Stadium.

Good: Adding capacity for 6,500 new fans to the North stands
Bad: Not adding any new entrances for those 6,500 new fans in the North End Zone. (Technically, they did add new entrances at the bottom of the stands, but the new seats were at the top.) In addition, they've added handrails to the aisle to aid disabled fans climbing up stairs, but at the expense of clogging the aisle even worse than before. Inconvenient to say the least, potentially lethal if an emergency (fire, severe weather) were to develop. I'm not sure how they are going to fix this one.

Good: New HuskerVision screen at the top of the North stands is VERY cool for highlights.
Bad: The new auxilary screens are at the south end of the field, meaning that fans in the north stadium don't get much of a view. They would have been better off combining the two panels into one big screen and mounting it at the top of the south end zone.

Good: Less advertising in the stadium.
Bad: Less scoreboards in the stadium. In the classic "throwing the baby out with the bathwater", they removed all of the old scoreboards and only replaced a couple. The yardage stats are now kept in a miniscule, illegible portion of the big screen. There are only 2 real scoreboards left, in 2 corners at field level. The one in the northeast corner becomes useless when the sun is shining as the red LED's are not bright enough to be seen in sunlight. The play clock also becomes tough to read in the sunlight, and an auxilary game clock is mounted behind the end zone cameraman, meaning it's always blocked. They've also portioned off part of the new TV screens to show score and game status, but those sections are too small and tough to read.

Bottom line: It was once said that "Hell is paved with good intentions". While exaggerating the impact problems, some major costly mistakes were made. The scoreboard problem can be fixed by purchasing new scoreboards and placing them back where they were. The HuskerVision problem is going to be more expensive to fix, as I'm not sure how much it will cost to set up screens for the fans in the north end zone. Perhaps one of the screens can be moved back to the northwest corner.

As for the access problems in the North stands, that is going to take some engineering and architectural work to fix, and potentially at a very high price. (Hopefully in dollars and not in lives.) I'm not sure what the engineers and architects were thinking here, because this was not well done at all.

Tunnel Walk thoughts
After 12 years, it's seemed over the last few years that they've run the limit as to what they can do creatively with animation. So the new approach of 3 players talking about why they came to Nebraska is a fresh way. On Saturday, one of the players was Bo Ruud who said "My brother played here, My father played here, My uncle played here. I bleed Husker Red"" while showing clips of the Ruud family in action, including John Ruud's legendary hit on Oklahoma's Kelly Phelps in 1978. The theme is "I play for Nebraska". Outstanding idea, though they producers need to cut back on the background noise and background music. These clips are being shown in a football stadium with thousands of screaming fans, not a movie theatre. Let the words and pictures speak for themselves without the dramatic underscore that obscures the message.

Also, one thing that needs to be fixed is the camerman filming the players walking out of the tunnel needs to back off the zoom as converting a standard TV picture to fill a 32:9 aspect ratio big screen requires cutting off the top 1/4 and bottom 1/4 of the picture. That means the first tunnel walk was mostly a collage of torsos. The rumors of smoke machines turned out to be bogus (thank goodness), but the ill-conceived fireworks of 2004 were back Saturday, and were not well timed at all. Hopefully we won't have to see them again.

Care to see it? A couple of videos have hit the internet. Keith Jackson introducing it was a nice thought, but it didn't seem to turn out. Better off just going straight to the player comments from a dark screen.


AJ said...

1) Keith Jackson is senile.

2) What is with the opening of the big doors? Reminds me of something you see on TV...only instead of a butler, it's a couple of National Gaurd troops.

I was almost waiting for the "knock knock" on the door..and then one of the troops to say, "Ohhh..why it's the team!"

It was a pretty cool concept for a while..but there is only so far you can take it. The door..the carpet...the troops....a bit much.

On a side note, I was there in 01 at teh Rice game when they flag came out to the tunnel walk. One of the coolest things I've ever seen I must say.

Husker Mike said...

Even last season, Keith Jackson was better than most of the announcers on FSN. But that says more about Fox than Keith, who realized that he'd lost it last year.

The doors and carpet at the end of the "tunnel", those were overdone. Better to do this on the locker room entrance to the tunnel. The troops rubbed me wrong at first; I was immediately reminded of the furor when an A&M cadet pulled a sword on a Husker fan 4 years ago. We don't need anybody to "guard" the tunnel; that's silly.

However, our troops deserve all of the honor and respect, and in that light, it's ok by me.

BTW, the team did have to "knock knock" to get let in; the "guards" didn't know when they were supposed to open the door.

AJ said...

That's funny.

Concur on the troops. Wish me luck this weekend and be sure to tune in.