RALEIGH — Game day experience is becoming a bigger and bigger draw for college football fans, and NC State is pushing to be one of the best in the nation.
Last season, brand new LED lights were installed above Carter-Finley Stadium with the ability to bathe the field in red. And when the Wolfpack take the field for its first home game of the season on Sept. 9 against Notre Dame, it will be a totally new experience.
“Our fans want this experience, and we’re excited to give them an updated and upgraded atmosphere here at Carter-Finley Stadium,” said associate athletic director Justin Stoll, who has overseen the installation of a new video board and sound system at the home of the Wolfpack. “It’s going to be a completely new experience, we feel, coming to a game here from what it was in the past.”
According to Stoll, these two specific upgrades were a long time coming, especially from a fan point of view.
“We do postgame surveys after every single game that we host at Carter-Finley Stadium, and usually the No. 1 complaints were about the video board and the audio system,” Stoll said. “We at NC State took that to heart and really wanted to work on our game day atmosphere, game day experience and so took it upon ourselves to really blow something out of the water and do something big for all of our fans, our team and our overall game day experience.”
While construction of the new video board didn’t take place until the spring, the process for the $15 million project had started more than a year earlier with planning and design. However, the deconstruction and installation process couldn’t begin to take place until a few other obligations were taken care of.
“We had a little event here in February called the Stadium Series,” Stoll said of the Carolina Hurricanes hosting an outdoor game at Carter-Finley. “We had to provide a board, and so we were a good partner with the NHL doing what we could with the existing video board in there.
“Then essentially as soon as that game ended and deconstruction of the ice and all of the elements of the Stadium Series game were occurring, we were getting all of our equipment and everything lined up for us to be able to disassemble the old board and start the process of putting up the new one.”
In place of the decade-old, 88-by-34-foot video board that had graced the north end of Carter Finley Stadium, is now a behemoth, state-of-the-art, 166-by-43-foot display.
Produced by Daktronics, NC State’s new video board is more than 7,100 square feet and features over 6.6 million pixels. According to Daktronics, the display also features 10-millimeter pixel spacing and incorporates industry-leading environmental protections.
To support the new board, two new pylons were installed down to bedrock, bringing the total number of supports up to six, as well as two steel beams which raised both the height and the width of the structure.
In addition to the video board, NC State went another step further and overhauled its sound systems.
“It is a point-source system, so it’s all originating from on top of the video board instead of a distributed system which would be throughout,” Stoll said. “This allows us to really have a lot of oomph and impact across the entire field. We zoned it out. There’s a speaker dedicated to the field, there’s a speaker dedicated to each side of the stadium, short throw, long throw, and there are speakers that are tilted down for Tuffy’s Terrace in the North end zone.
“We’ve also added concourse audio and speakers so we can continue the game day experience out there for radio or PA announcements. Gate speakers for all of our entry points to notify patrons of what’s coming in and what’s going on, ‘Have your tickets downloaded,’ ‘Welcome to Carter-Finley Stadium,’ all that type of messaging. So we’ve done a full stadium audio upgrade.”
Each project has aimed to build a bigger and better overall experience for the fans, and NC State hopes the improvements will translate to bigger and longer turnouts.
“Last year, they added these lights that turn on and off and go red and all this that was pretty cool for the players and the fans,” said NC State coach Dave Doeren. “Now we also have the largest jumbotron in the league with a new sound system, which is going to add even more to the game day environment which I know will fire our fans up. We love the Wolfpack fanbase and we continue to ask them to be in the stands for four quarters and try to make life hell on the opponents.”