The cheap seats at Charlotte Hornets games aren’t going to feel so cheap anymore.
Not with the gigantic new state-of-the-art scoreboard now hanging over the court inside the Spectrum Center (formerly known as Time Warner Cable Arena), which will bring fans in the upper level closer to the action than ever before by way of razor-sharp screens that measure 42.8 feet wide and 25.2 feet tall on the sidelines and 31.3 feet wide and 18 feet tall on the baselines.
The Hornets boasted at Friday’s unveiling that it is one of the largest and most high-resolution scoreboards in the league, and the NBA’s only board that displays images in true 1080p HD – which, in layman’s terms, means the Samsung screens provide the same quality and level of detail as the high-definition content produced by your Blu-Ray player.
If those claims don’t mean anything to you but you’ve been to games in the past, consider this: The $7 million scoreboard is two to two-and-a-half times as large as the old, standard-definition board. It overwhelms the space, in a good way, turning the arena into “the biggest living room, likely, in Charlotte,” joked Pete Guelli, the team’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
“It was really important for us to undertake this project, because it changes the perspective from the upper level,” Guelli said while members of the media watched the scoreboard churn out some (way) larger-than-life in-game demo material.
“The lower level is ostensibly sold out.... But a lot of the new customers that come into the building will be sitting in the upper level, at least to start. We wanted to bring the experience as close to them as possible. It’s easy to do it near the floor. It’s a lot tougher as you move up the stairs in the building.”
For those down low, the new scoreboard features two “underbelly” screens measuring 16.5 feet wide by 9.8 feet high – these also come with the distinction of being the largest such screens in the NBA, and will simulcast what’s playing on the big screens.
And whereas the old scoreboard basically just looked like a big box, the new monstrosity looks like something out of “Independence Day.” The underbelly also hides a “hive” that features the Hornets’ iconic pattern of honeycomb-shaped cells that on Friday glowed (what else?) purple and teal.
It almost appears as though the whole thing could fold up like a Transformer, but the team says it simply can be raised in the same manner as the old scoreboard, for times when it needs to recede into the background a little bit more (during concerts or other non-sports events, for instance).
“We really believe that this is going to be the future of scoreboards,” Guelli said. “There are a lot of great boards out there – their quality is great, they’re massive in size – but nobody’s really taken it to the next level from the design standpoint.
“We believe from a design, size and resolution standpoint, this is one of the absolute best boards in professional sports.”
In addition, there are four new auxiliary corner video boards, each measuring 26 feet wide by 16 feet high, and new LED ribbon boards on both the lower and upper levels.
The team is holding an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday that will give fans a first look at the new scoreboard. Then the board goes live for the first time next weekend, during the Professional Bull Riders event. The Hornets’ first true preseason home game is on Oct. 10 against the Minnesota Timberwolves (they host the Boston Celtics at Greensboro Coliseum on Oct. 6); the regular-season home opener is also against Boston, on Oct. 29.
Oh, and one final note: There was a bit of freaking out on Twitter after we posted a photo that showed the Hornets’ court – because the traditional honeycomb design was noticeably absent. But don’t worry. “Our NBA court is being re-finished with the new Spectrum Center wording/marks,” said Mike Cristaldi, the team’s vice president for communications, in an e-mail. “It wasn’t finished yet. So we decided to put out our college court. We just wanted to have the court in place to give it the best feel.”