Summer renovations at the Whitney Forum have brought some big changes up high. Gone are the old scoreboard and one of the rink’s press boxes - they’ve both been replaced with newer, more modern versions.
The new board, built almost entirely of LED screens, was mounted in the rink’s roof late last month in the run-up to the Roller Goodwin Hockey Tournament.
The board itself is controlled by a computer set up in the new press box, with a simple control scheme - adding a sponsor, advertiser or team logo to the board is as easy as clicking and dragging an image. The board is capable of showing real-time game footage, as captured by one or more cameras set up around the rink, as well as instant replays after a whistle blows.
The new board is larger than - and located about four feet higher in the rafters than - its predecessor.
“We had to go through an engineering and feasibility study. We had to see if it was even feasible to put this clock on the roof, because this new clock is slightly heavier than the old clock,” said Whitney Forum manager Les Taylor.
“We went to an engineering firm and they did say it was feasible.”
The extra weight is supported with extra brackets and braces with the roof, along with a support truss, hanging from the very top of the structure. Funding for the clock came mainly from sponsors of the Flin Flon Bombers, along with some funding from the team itself and the City of Flin Flon, which also oversaw the building and installation of the board.
The new board requires 125 amps of electricity to power it and the power supply needs somewhere to be stored - that’s where the new press box comes in.
A new box - like the new scoreboard, substantially larger than its predecessor - now sits above the team benches. The box still has the same vantage point from its front side, but has been extended back towards the wall of the Forum and extended in overall size.
New cabling and power supplies are built into the new press box, which is rated for seven people - one or two of whom may be specifically set aside for running the clock.
Some parts of the rink have items obstructing view of the board, like light fixtures, speaker banks or, from a couple angles, some of the Bombers’ 40 or so championship banners - the City is making plans to address the sightline problems, but has not made a firm plan or committed to moving either the board itself, the banners, lights or speakers.
The work is not fully finished. A voltage conditioner for the board is still on its way up north, leaving the board vulnerable in case of a power outage or surges. The press box is not fully furnished and likely won’t be until next year. Other bells and whistles, like adding cameras onto the clock facing each net or rewiring audio from one press box into the other for video broadcasts may be in the cards, but will only be finished after more key issues are fixed.
“It all gives us more options down the road,” said Taylor.
“A project like this, it always evolves. It’s never like you put it in and it’s done. A good example is the height of the clock - it’s higher than the last one was. How are we going to approach this? There’s a lot of things we have to look at first.”
The applications for the new board are not just limited to hockey - the board could see use in other Whitney Forum events, like grad ceremonies, the Trout Festival Fish Fry or by other user groups.
“I'm excited to see what this could do,” Taylor said.
“We can do a lot with all of this. You could have a grad ceremony here and you can play videos and photos on it. Maybe during the playoffs if the Bombers are playing away, we can stream the game on the clock. There’s all sorts of things we can do with this.”
Taylor also thanked the work of City employees for getting the clock installed and the press box built, along with finishing up the Forum’s ice surface in anticipation of the Roller Goodwin.
“Every one of them put in overtime, extra time - even on those nice days, 25 degrees, everyone was in here working past six and seven o’clock almost every night. That’s what had to be done to get the press box done, the ice done, the board done,” he said.