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1980 Miracle On Ice Scoreboard Decommissioned

An iconic symbol of the 1980 Winter Olympics was decommissioned this morning in Lake Placid.
The scoreboard in the Herb Brooks Arena, where the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in the Miracle on Ice hockey game, was lowered from the rafters to be replaced.
Al Michaels: “11 seconds.  You got 10 seconds. The countdown going on right now.  Five seconds left in the game.  Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

The nearly 37-year-old scoreboard lit with the 1980 Olympic Miracle on Ice final score of 4-3 was lowered to the rink floor in a low-key ceremony.  Among those gathered to watch its sendoff was Town of North Elba Supervisor Robi Politi.  As a video of the final minutes of the game played, he remembered being in the arena as the U.S. won the game.  “This building was shaking at that moment.  I’ll never forget leaving this arena and going out onto the street and seeing thousands and thousands of people jumping for joy.  The excitement, you just can’t imagine.”

While the scoreboard is a reminder of that event, Politi says it’s time for change.  “In some ways it’s sad to see it go but in other ways it’s part of changing times and this scoreboard probably represents one of the most famous scoreboards in sports history.”

The scoreboard was designed and built by Brookings, South Dakota-based Daktronics, which will also provide its modern replacement.   Jim Morgan retired as the company’s president about three years ago.  He was the project engineer who designed the scoreboard and was on the team that installed it. Morgan says while custom designed, it was fairly standard technology at the time.   “It was designed in 1978 and that was the very early days of microprocessors.  The fact that it’s still working 37 years after the Olympics is pretty unusual for electronics. I looked at the control unit that keys in the names of the teams here and see that that’s actually the same box that was used 37 years ago.  It’s pretty amazing to see that it’s still working. It’s served its purpose and it’s fitting for a historic place like this at some point to get to new technology.  They can still celebrate their historic importance here with the new technology.”

One member of the 1980 hockey team watched as the old scoreboard was lowered.  Left Wing Buzz Schneider says it’s sad to see it come down.  “Every time I come back though I’m not going to see this scoreboard so it’s going to be something missing.  It’s part of history and it’s going to be gone but I can understand why they’re doing it. But it’ll be missed by me for sure.  But I want to touch that 4 to 3 before I see it disappear.”

Not only did he touch the old scoreboard, Schneider left an autograph on one of the panels thanking Daktronics.

As arena workers began removing cables and dismantling the scoreboard, Olympic Regional Development Authority President and CEO Ted Blazer said its panels will be preserved.  “It looks like one piece but it’s actually four pieces.  One piece is going to be retained here so the general public can see it. Another piece is going to go back to Daktronics to their corporate offices which they’ll have displayed in their main office.  They’re very emotional about that.  You know it’s part of their history as well. And then there’s two pieces we have to make a decision on. So stay tuned.”

The 9-foot high and 12-foot wide  scoreboard will be replaced with a state-of-the-art LED video display scoreboard of a similar size.
 

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