PENSACOLA, Fla. – Wednesday was a good day for Pensacola hockey fans. The Pensacola Bay Center made an announcement that answered years of prayers and wishes. Then, shortly thereafter, in the team’s announcement of the news, they also slipped in another major piece of news.
The Pensacola Bay Center announced that the arena, affectionately known as the Hangar, will finally have a new scoreboard installed prior to the 2020-21 season. This new scoreboard will become only the second used in the arena since hockey started being played in Pensacola in 1996. Last season, there were players for the Ice Flyers and in the SPHL who were younger than the scoreboard they were skating under.
According to a graphic posted on the Pensacola Bay Center’s Facebook page, the displays on the new scoreboard look to be about twice the size of the matrix display on the old scoreboard. The new LED video board will be center hung just like the soon-to-be-retired scoreboard but will feature four HD screens and appears to have ribbon board around the top of the apparatus. The finalized design is yet to be released but it will likely look similar to the graphic. Additionally, there will be two LED displays installed in two of the corners of the arena where the backlit ads currently are and two standard scoreboards in the endzones where the ads/clocks are now.
Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris has wanted to see an upgraded scoreboard in the Hangar ever since he first came to town as part owner. Harris, the majority owner since 2013, has done his part to help make that dream a reality by contributing $150,000 towards the cost and installation in a joint investment between the team, Escambia County, arena management company ASM Global, and the Sun Belt Conference (SBC).
The SBC’s investment is due to the announcement earlier this year that the Pensacola Bay Center will play host to the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. While the Sun Belt’s involvement helped push the new scoreboard into existence, the Ice Flyers will undoubtedly get the most use and reap the most benefits from it. Videoboards can completely change both sponsorship sales and fan experience.
The team can now utilize the video board to do things like skits with players, pre-game and intermission hype videos, fan cams, sponsorship video ads as opposed to audio-only, video promotional contests such as trivia or dance-offs. These are things that have been commonplace in major league and minor league sports for a decade but are just now coming to Pensacola.
In the team’s announcement of the new scoreboard, the Ice Flyers also announced the longest lease agreement not just in the team’s history, but in the history of Pensacola hockey. The new agreement runs through at least 2024-25 with options to extend the agreement through 2027. In 2020-21, the Ice Flyers’ tenure in Pensacola will match the Ice Pilots’ of 12 seasons, and, assuming the options are exercised, their tenure will reach 18 seasons.
Harris and the Ice Flyers have long been committed to giving back and the team having a presence in the Pensacola-area community. From donating to local charities, player and mascot appearances at local hospitals and events, as well as donating ice time to the Jr. Ice Flyers, this new lease affirms that his mission will continue for the foreseeable future.
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