SOUTH BEND — Mike Bonner saw his future inside a booth at Yankee Stadium.
But, more literally, he saw a video board. His video board. The New York Yankees’ video board.
For one night only, it rolled replays and pumped out highlights for an equally identifiable athletic monogram:
A little more than a year and a half after the new Yankee Stadium was unveiled, and barely four months after the team’s larger-than-life owner and managing partner — George Steinbrenner — passed away, the Yankees welcomed Notre Dame to The Bronx for a game against Army on Nov. 20, 2010.
“Before he passed, Mr. Steinbrenner loved college football,” said Bonner, who operated the Yankees’ video board from 1999 to 2013. “He always said, ‘When we do college football here at the new Yankee Stadium, we want it to be great. It’s not just some other event. Let’s make this marquee.’ ”
For Bonner, “marquee” meant flying to South Bend for a game — in this case, an underwhelming 28-27 loss to Tulsa on Oct. 30, 2010 — to better understand the program and culture he was preparing to represent. It meant embedding a camera with the team in the week leading up to the Army game. It meant producing a high-quality pregame show to roll in the minutes before kickoff.
It meant proving that a national brand can embrace technology without trampling its rich tradition.
“(Notre Dame’s administrators) said, ‘We think this is an appropriate brand and stadium to show to some folks that we can do it, and it doesn’t have to be over the top,’ ” Bonner recalled.
During the game — a decisive 27-3 Notre Dame victory — university president Rev. John I. Jenkins entered the production booth to watch Bonner work. So did athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
In the end, the Irish — and Bonner — won in more ways than one.
“After the game,” Bonner said,…