HUNTINGTON - Workers got the Big Sandy Superstore Arena's new video board off the ground Monday, hoisting and mounting the 12-foot-tall electronic sign above the arena's main entrance.
Once activated, it will be the city's largest digital sign and will display promotions for upcoming events and advertisements of the arena's sponsors.
It will remind visitors what items are allowed inside the arena and could also be used to play movies on the outside plaza, said Cindy Collins, general manager.
It's all part of technical and aesthetic upgrades being made to the 9,000-seat arena and convention center for the first time in years.
Paris Signs of Huntington was awarded the contract to build the 12 feet tall by 23 feet wide video board for $168,000 in March.
Collins said workers made some engineering changes to the sign from its initial design, which were necessary to get it operational. They were installing wiring this week and Collins said she expected the sign to start displaying video by the weekend.
The video board will eventually support sound, but a contract hasn't been awarded to install the audio capabilities yet. That cost is not to exceed $35,000. Collins said the arena is working with several companies on designing those capabilities.
In addition to the new video board, the arena is receiving a blue-colored mural to update its formerly orange exterior. Artist Don Pendleton was selected to paint a 147-foot-long mural, which will feature expressionist shapes resembling Huntington images such as a buffalo, Old Main, the Ritter Park Rose Garden, Memorial Arch and a banjo.
That blue color theme also will carry to inside the arena, which recently received lighting and other technical upgrades, Collins said.
"We have had a multitude of feedback on our Facebook posts about how proud people are to see these upgrades," she said. "We are really excited about them."
The arena's makeover, including unveiling of the mural, is expected to be completed by the end of July, she said.
Along with the renovations, the arena could be receiving a new name because the city's contract for naming rights with the Big Sandy Superstore has expired. The city is in negotiations with a new company for naming rights, but nothing has been finalized yet, Collins said.
It will be called Big Sandy Superstore Arena in the meantime.
Big Sandy Superstore, which operates furniture stores in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, purchased 10-year naming rights to the arena for $1.4 million in 2003. The naming rights were renewed in 2013 for $750,000 over five years. Before that, the structure was known as the Huntington Civic Arena.
The last major arena improvements were in 2011, a $2.3 million seat-replacement project that was part of a $4.5 million overhaul of everything from the HVAC and rigging to interior work in the Conference Center. Although the concrete plaza has undergone some work in recent years, the main building exterior hasn't been updated since the building opened in 1977. The building is owned by the city of Huntington and is managed by SMG, an arena management corporation.
Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.