The impulse that will possibly soon raise a spaceship over Jordan-Hare: IMPROVE THE GAMEDAY EXPERIENCE.
It is the mantra, mantra, mantra of Auburn Athletics. And it was always thus.
Forty feet wide, 15 feet tall: These were the jaw-dropping specs for Jordan-Hare’s first scoreboard — “one of the most modern in the country” — that debuted at Auburn’s 1941 homecoming game against Clemson.
It was the latest demonstration of how the Auburn Athletics Department was, as erstwhile sports publicist Elmer Salter put it, “always striving to please Johnny Public.”
Of course, Johnny Public was supposed to have had its scoreboard by the dedication of Auburn Stadium two years earlier. It didn’t happen. And it likely cost Auburn a victory. Knowing how much time you had left in a game — that could really come in handy when you were on the goal line with two seconds left. And for the modern football fan in 1941, it was becoming a must.
“After the game held last Saturday in the Auburn Stadium”–only the third game in the stadium in the two years since it was built–“we realize that the one thing that our stadium needs is a scoreboard,” the Plainsman opined after Auburn’s early season win over Louisiana Tech . “One doesn’t really see the necessity of such an object until he views a football game without one to refer to every few minutes.”
Buildings and Grounds got to work on such an object a few weeks later. It was steel, a full fifteen feet off the ground, and Coach Jack Meagher made sure it would be fully loaded: Time, score, downs, yardage, all spelled out in “a great number of lights.”
The scoreboard was paid for mostly with funds secured “through the untiring efforts” of Neal Collins, head of the Montgomery Auburn Alumni Club, and Howard Pill, one of the head honchos at Montgomery television radio station WSFA (and, what do you know, a Bama grad, like those 100 folks that helped pay for the stadium with their special souvenir tickets.)
The Plainsman was stoked.
“Every Auburn student will really be proud of the scoreboard which will do a great deal towards helping the crowds in the stands enjoy the games held in the stadium more,” wrote managing editor Willard Hayes. “When a person is watching a game between two closely equal teams, the score is seven to six, the spectators’ team is behind and there is one minute left to play, the scoreboard at the head of the stadium is watched almost as much as the two teams on the playing field.”
Seventy-four years worth of advances in peripheral vision retention later, it may soon be impossible not to watch the scoreboard as much as the two teams on the playing field, however much time is left in the game.
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More fun Jordan-Hare origin stories:
* A list of the first items ever lost and found in Jordan-Hare Stadium
* The almost names of Jordan-Hare Stadium
* Rare shot of ‘Hare Stadium’
* Poor communication by official cost Auburn a win over Florida in first game played in Jordan-Hare Stadium
* The original capacity of Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium was twice as much as everyone says
* How FDR’s ‘Franksgiving’ fiasco nearly spoiled the dedication of Auburn Stadium