Calling the shots: Meet the man behind Notre Dame's new video board
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - It’s hard to miss Notre Dame’s brand new video board. But what goes into running it? We’re introducing you to the man calling the shots.
“I am humbled and honored to really be handed the keys to drive this great vehicle, you know the first ever video board at Notre dame stadium,” said Mike Bonner, Fighting Irish Media’s new Executive Producer of Live Events.
The mammoth measures about 54 feet high by 96 feet wide.
Packed with 4.8 million pixels, it’s the largest video board of any NCAA outdoor venue.
Keys in hand, Bonner is driving full speed ahead.
With over 20 years of experience, he started work at WNBC-TV in New York; moved on to the National Hockey League; and then made it to being Director of In-Game Entertainment for the Yankees before spending a few years with the Denver Broncos.
It was Bonner’s stint with the Yankees, however, that landed him the job at Notre Dame.
“I directed the Shamrock Series in New York in 2010 between Notre Dame and Army, and that was my first taste of Notre Dame…They said you might have just helped us get a video board after that game at Yankee Stadium, and I said, you know if you do, let me know. I might be interested in running it,” said Bonner.
Fast forward six years, and this lifelong Notre Dame fan is joining the Fighting Irish.
“I’m Irish Catholic, grew up a Notre Dame fan. Love football. I love history and tradition…and to have the opportunity to live that out here and really be a part of history myself,” he said.
He plans to make history with three words: “Replays, replays, replays.”
“Fans want football. The fans want replays… I found it myself. …I watched a play happen on the field, and immediately my neck went like that to take a look on the video board for the replay, but there wasn’t one,” said Bonner.
Now that there is, “You’re not going to see a kiss cam. …You’re going to see a lot of history. You’re going to see a lot of football, but you’re going to learn a lot about the university,” he said.
Mike says his gut decides what to show when.
“It’s a fly by the seat of your pants thing,” he said. “It’s viewing okay how much time do I have left on the clock? What’s the game situation? What just happened on the field?”
He said the biggest challenge is just getting everyone to be on the same page.
“Getting that buy-in, and then running with it,” he said.
Bonner’s betting on fans buying into his three main points: “Entertain. Educated. And engage.”
“Just being able to put someone’s face up on the video board and them recognize, hey that’s me! And then someone takes a picture of it. That’s powerful and people love it. And that should never get lost on anyone who does my job,” he said.
Mike says he could never do this job alone.
“I have a great team. …Really we have over 40 people that are on our crew, …I have to be able to trust my folks that they’re able to do the job,” he said.
Mike still can’t believe he gets to sell tickets for the team he cheered on as a kid.
“It’s the kind of situation where you pinch yourself every now and then. Is this real? Is this really happening?” he said.
Gazing below at his new turf of green and gold, he’s realizing it is.
“I love it…There’s nothing like the rush of running a video and the fans reacting the way you hope they do or the team reacting the way you hope they do… There’s something special about that,” said Bonner.