"It's going to add a lot to our rodeo," said Mike Conway, rodeo chairman for the Sikeston Jaycees. "Hopefully it will add a whole other level to the experience for our patrons as it allows for better viewing of the event."
The LED scoreboard is provided by U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. as part of their "Western Legends Tour," according to Shawn Chapman of Lewisville, Texas, rodeo supervisor for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co.
It is hauled to rodeo events inside a 38-foot trailer along with a pair computers to run it. "We're responsible for the setup, the teardown and the operation," Chapman said. "We do roughly 90 events a year."
Chapman and rodeo supervisors touring with the company's other scoreboards are out on the road around 180-210 days per year. "We have four of these screens and then two older screens," he said.
The LED scoreboard which will be used here this year is 17.5 feet wide by 12.5 feet tall when fully assembled. "It weighs 4,000 pounds," Chapman said.
An important part of the show, the scoreboard keeps fans informed about what's going on by displaying the name of the rider and where they are from along with their times and scores. "It's here for them more than anything else," Chapman said.
It also keeps the sponsors happy, too, Chapman said, as sponsor logos brought in on CDs or computer disks as .eps or .jpg files are sized to fit the scoreboard as full-screen images.
This scoreboard goes beyond just text and sponsor information, however. While this is the third year U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. has provided a scoreboard for the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo, it is the first time with a LED scoreboard. The old scoreboards used "glow cubes" to spell out information on competitors and to display scores.
"These are brand-new screens," Chapman said. The LED scoreboards are connected by fiberoptic cable to their computers in a control room and can display full-motion video in color. "It plays live and replay action," said Kyle Medicis, who works with Chapman as a field coordinator with the scoreboard for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co.
"Where we can, we'll take a live feed from a camera," Chapman said. When cameramen zoom in to the action or get close ups in the chutes, "you can actually feel like you're there," he said. "You're that close."
"It's wonderfully clear," Conway said. "I think it's going to add a lot to our performance."
The new scoreboards are "so much easier to watch," Chapman said. "They're more interactive."
While larger and heavier than the old, text-only scoreboards, "this one's easier to put up than the old one," said Steve Ferrell of Ferrell Excavating, who operated the crane used to lift the scoreboard into place.
Chapman agreed the new LED scoreboards are easier to set up than the old ones which took more time to assemble.
"This one is in two pieces," he said. "The old scoreboards were actually in four. I think it's a lot easier."
Chapman has worked as a rodeo supervisor with the company's scoreboards full-time since October after putting in about three and a half years as a field coordinator waiting for one of the full-time positions to open up.
The company came up with the idea for the video-capable scoreboards about two years ago and have had them up and running for a little over a year, he said.
"We're just excited for it to be here and feel very lucky to have it," said Conway. "Not every rodeo gets to have it."