ORONO, Maine — University of Maine benefactors and alums Phillip and Susan Morse have again reached into their bank account to give the university an $800,000 gift that will be used to install a high-definition video scoreboard on Morse Field in the Alfond Sports Stadium.
Morse Field and the Alfond Sports Stadium is where the Black Bears play their football games and hold their outdoor track meets.
The state-of-the-art scoreboard, which will be approximately 30 feet wide by 20 feet high, will include such features as an HD video display and instant replay. It will provide an opportunity for enhanced fan interaction, including live remote fan shots, video engagement and posted tweets and texts.
In will also benefit high school teams that use the facility and other events such as the Special Olympics.
The scoreboard is expected to be installed in time for the first home football game next fall. It will be one of the few outdoor HD video boards in New England.
This is the third sizeable contribution made by the Morses to the facility.
In 1997, the 1964 Maine graduates along with Waterville philanthropist Harold Alfond combined to donate $5.25 million to build a new facility. The original facility, Alumni Stadium, failed to pass inspection in 1996 and was condemned.
Alfond’s $3.1 million donation went to the building of the new grandstand that increased the capacity to 10,000 and the Morses’ $2.15 million donation paid for the playing surface, lights and scoreboard.
In 2008, the Morses donated $1 million for an upgrade as a new FieldTurf artificial surface was installed. It replaced AstroTurf which had been put down in 1998.
“The Morses have been incredibly generous,” said Maine athletic director Steve Abbott. “It is truly appreciated.
“One of the great benefits is that it will not only help our football program, it will also help all other activities we have at the stadium,” added Abbott. “One of our big pushes in the athletic department the last couple of years is to attract more high school events to the campus. We’re hosting a high school football state championship game this year.”
The Class B state title game will be held on Friday evening, Nov. 22, at Morse Field.
A few high school regular season games have been played there as well as state field hockey championship games and track meets.
“Having this video scoreboard will help us attract more events. We want to try to get more high school students on campus and our ultimate goal is to get them to attend the university,” Abbott said.
The addition of the video scoreboard gives the facility “huge potential.
“One of the things we’d like to do is host major cross country events, not just at the college level but also at the high school level,” said Abbott. “We can use mobile cameras to follow the runners (and show it on the scoreboard).”
He said it could also be used for festivals and concerts, for movies, and graduation ceremonies would benefit even though graduation is held inside the Alfond Arena next to the Alfond Sports Stadium.
“We often have overflow situations for our graduations so now people will be able to watch the graduation outside on the scoreboard. It will be especially helpful to people with small children. Rather than trying to get their kids to sit through a graduation in the Alfond Arena, they can let them run outside while watching it on the scoreboard,” pointed out Abbott.
Maine football coach Jack Cosgrove said in a press release that the impact for his program will be “huge.
“The scoreboard is the single biggest thing we can do to improve the game day atmosphere in the stadium and I believe it will excite our players, students and fans,” said Cosgrove.