When the Barnes County Sheriff's Deputies and the Valley City State University freshmen played in the first annual Vikings vs. Deputies touch football game on Shelly Ellig Field at Lokken Stadium, it wasn't just the VCSU players making their public debut.
On the west end of the field, a video screen above the scoreboard lit up and spent the night displaying graphics as touchdowns were scored, interceptions caught, and big plays were made.
This season will be the first using the screen and, although operations aren't expected to be perfect, VCSU football coach Dennis McCullough expects the board to become a valuable tool for enhancing fan experience.
"It's new to us," McCullough said about the board. "It will probably be rough early on but as it gets going, I know we'll get things developed and it will be a great addition."
The screen was installed last month on top of a new scoreboard that was installed last year. Ideas for the screen's use include commercials, pre-made video content, in-game statistics, as well as a feed of the game through the school's existing cameras.
The only thing it is missing is replay capabilities, McCullough said.
"Hopefully as we grow, it will become a great addition out there and add to the environment of the game and the atmosphere of the game, and that's what we're trying to do," he said.
The screen is merely the tip of improvements to the stadium over the last year.
The track surface was recently repaired in a joint effort between VCSU and the Valley City School District, and, most notably, the school put in a field turf playing surface last summer.
Unlike grass, which requires plenty of maintenance, the field turf is consistently green, even in the middle of winter, and can be used for practice and events as needed.
It came in handy in the spring, when mild weather conditions gave the VCSU baseball and softball teams a chance to have an outdoor practice long before they normally would.
It's a convenience the coaches enjoy.
"It's so nice to be able to just know everyday we walk on that field, no matter what the weather's like, we can practice," McCullough said.