Center-hung Friel board on track for opener

AS ONE OF THE senior associate athletic directors at Washington State, John Johnson has grown accustomed to juggling several projects at once. For Johnson, working on a host of renovations at Beasley Coliseum -- including a center-hung scoreboard -- must seem like child's play compared to raising twins less than a year old.

"I'm one of the few guys who gets AARP and BabiesRUs in the same delivery," the silver-haired Johnson cracked.

Ellie and Cooper Johnson are already regulars at WSU sports events, and they're going to like what they see when the Cougars play basketball at Friel Court this winter.

Johnson said the Cougars hope to receive bids on the new scoreboard in the next week or two. The scoreboard (which is indeed to be center-hung, contrary to an erroneous CF.C missive earlier this year) will feature full-color video screens on all four sides, each one measuring at least 11 1/2 x 16 feet.

"Because it's hung from the middle of the building, we have to reinforce the structure for the board itself and also to hold a hoist that can raise it up and down," Johnson said. "Some catwalks need to to be moved. Electrical, of course, and some conduit work has to be done."

The total cost is expected to run between $2.5 million and $3 million, Johnson said. The estimated cost of the scoreboard itself is $1.1 million to $1.3 million. Asked if the Cougars will have the scoreboard up in time for the men's and women's home openers, Johnson laughed and said, "Barely. It's a tight project, but yeah, we have time.

"We enlisted the help of a consultant that works on these all over the country. Helps you put together proposals. And our faculty operations area on campus is just terrific at construction. They just bent over backwards to get this thing done."

In addition to the scoreboard, a Cougars basketball history exhibit will replace the WSU Hall of Fame in Beasley. The Hall of Fame is tentatively set to move to the lobby outside the weight room in the Bohler Athletic Complex.

Improved branding and graphics, two points of emphasis by athletic director Bill Moos, also will be coming to Beasley and other WSU athletic facilities. It's all part of the new face of Cougars athletics that Moos and his staff are working diligently to project.

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