Athletic Director Tom Osborne announced today that Husker football season tickets will go up $2 per game to $54 per game ($378 for 7 home games in 2009). A fairly moderate price increase, especially when compared to Bill Byrne's old trick of keeping the season total price the same when the number of games dropped by a game. But this season's home schedule leaves a lot to be desired for Husker fans. Yes, Oklahoma and Texas Tech are coming to Lincoln. But so are Iowa State, Kansas State, and the Sun Belt Conference (Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State, and Louisiana Lafayette). But what choice to fans have, other than complain? Bottom line: in this economy and with this schedule, it would have been nice if the prices could have held steady this season.
Much of the price increase is being targeted towards addressing some of the shortcomings of the 2006 stadium renovations. Two new HuskerVision screens are being installed in the north endzones for the fans at that end of the field. The entire HuskerVision system is being upgraded to high definition, and ribbon boards are likely to be installed along the east and west balconies.
The ribbon boards could be a very cool addition to Memorial Stadium, provided they are used responsibly. Many fans might be used to the ribbon boards at Omaha's Qwest Center, which pretty much are only used to show distracting bouncing advertisements during the game. (Ever notice flashing reflections during televised basketball and hockey games? Those are ribbon boards being abused.)
But ribbon boards can be useful if used judiciously. Check out a Husker basketball game; you may not realize it, but that's a ribbon board on the scorers table. It's used to rotate between advertising, but it's not intrusive because animation is kept to a minimum. In fact, it's less annoying than the old rollerboards that used to be used at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
That doesn't mean that the boards will simply flood Memorial Stadium with advertising. They can also be used as auxilary scoreboards. Take a look at this Daktronics display in Miami showing statistics. Which is how I expect them to be used in Memorial Stadium. Ribbon boards could be used to more statistics than can be displayed on the existing scoreboard, and by using the ribbon boards, frees up the north end zone screen for a widescreen HD display. Yes, there will be some advertising, but if the advertising is done subtly, with animation limited to timeouts, it won't be any more distracting than the current HuskerVision promotions. (Which can be annoying when they are played according to a schedule rather than at an appropriate time of the game.)
We'll see how Nebraska chooses to use this technology, but if done right, it has the possibility of enhancing, rather than diminish, the game experience.