Eck Stadium adds luxury scoreboard; more upgrades on the way

Wichita State baseball fans have a big reason to be excited for opening day.

Daktronics installed a new LED video display scoreboard in left field of Eck Stadium. The scoreboard is set to be the fourth largest scoreboard in any college baseball stadium in the country — measuring roughly 1,300 square feet.

“It’s incredible,” pitcher Sam Tewes said. “Mind-boggling. It’s incredible for anyone who walks in.”

The scoreboard is result of a partnership with CBS Sports Properties. The university’s facilities office reports that CBS Sports Properties fronted $1 million of the $1.2 million dollar investment in an exchange for advertising rights.

“The old video board was at the end of its useful life,” athletics facilities director Brad Pittman said.

Renovations to the scoreboard were identified as an immediate need, as the former scoreboard was outdated, with initial construction complete in 2006.

“It’s been something we’ve been talking about for about a year or two,” Pittman said. “We knew it was a need, and if it didn’t happen now it needed to happen fairly quickly.”

The display measures approximately 20.5 feet high and 63.5 feet wide. It equipped to showcase game information, graphics and animation. Pittman said it is also equipped to handle live video streaming and instant replays.

The scale of the project was largely based on the former structure, Pittman said.

“From an engineering standpoint we knew we could build it that large,” Pittman said. “We wanted to make it as large as we could without blowing the bank.”

Now in the final stages WSU plans to have the screen operating on opening day, Feb. 19.

Pittman believes this to be a large reason for the Wichita community to start getting excited about Shocker baseball once again. But the Athletics Department isn’t done pushing the envelope. Their focus — keeping fans on the edge of their seats.

Phase 5

A separate project expanding Eck Stadium in a series of innovations is in the funding stages set to go public later this year.

A university initiative titled Phase 5 details a $3 million project detailing a new development to Eck Stadium.

The Phase 5 development would create an extension on the third base side of the stadium. Inside, the addition will house new coaches offices, a team room, new baseball locker rooms, a training facility and a film room. The addition also focuses on enhancing the fan experience with a condensed ticket office, a fan plaza and a gift shop.

Phase 5 is part of a seven-year vision, and is determined as the final renovation plans for Eck Stadium. With complete funding for the $3 million project on hold, the facilities office made the decision to pursue development of the indoor practice facility.

“The indoor practice facility, we believed, offered the greatest benefit at the time,” Pittman said.

Since coach Todd Butlers joined the program in 2013 the department is looking at revisiting those plans.

Now with the plans finalized, funding stands in the way of the project’s completion.

“In order to raise those funds it’ll be going to donors and asking for certain gifts,” Pittman said. “The more successful the team is, the more successful our fundraising efforts will be.”

A total cost of over $3 million has been detailed for the extension. The department holds a little more than a million in the bank leftover from a previous fundraising effort.

“The WSU Foundation and WSU Athletics currently is seeking to raise $2 million in private money to fund this project,” said director of development Alex Johnson.

Johnson states the largest need of the development will be a new strength and cardio facility. The facility will overlook the stadium through glass windows.

“It works as a motivational tool,” Johnson said. “Gives the student-athletes a sense of what they’re working for.”

The department has identified the renovations as a need and development operations will take place as soon as the $2 million efforts are met.

“The sooner we reach the $2 million, the sooner we make this a reality for our student athletes,” Johnson said.

With the rich history and tradition instilled in Shocker baseball, Johnson said he believes the efforts to reach the investment will be easily met.

The project will be supported entirely by private donations, fundraising efforts are set to be made public later this year.

“We’re just making sure we make the community aware that this is a great rendering of what is yet to come,” he said.

With a vision for Innovation Campus, an effort by university President John Bardo, Phase 5 ensures athletics are not being left behind.

“This will help sell Eck Stadium as one of baseball’s finest,” Johnson said.

Big picture the university sees Phase 5 as chance to take the program back to the glory days of Shocker baseball. Phase 5 is a chance to launch the facility to the peak of their 39-year history.

“It’s a nice scoreboard, nice facilities, couldn’t ask for anything better in the country,” Ryan Tinkham, first baseman, said.”It’s great for us, it’s great for the community.”