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Mega Carthage football stadium screen - largest in state - almost installed

By Sherry Koonce skoonce@news-journal.com
Aug. 14, 2012 at 11 p.m.


CARTHAGE - The Carthage High School Bulldogs - Texas' 3A football champions of 2008, 2009 and 2010 - have scored a new first.

Bulldog Stadium will have the largest Jumbotron screen of any high school in Texas when the season opens Aug. 31 against Gladewater, according to district officials.

At a cost of $750,000, the mammoth scoreboard measures 26 feet high and 44 feet wide, the screen is 1,200 square feet - the size of a small house.

"It is the biggest screen in the world in high schools," said Carthage ISD Athletic Director Scott Surratt.

"It is the best one we have installed; it is the Cadillac for sure," said David Paslay, director of engineering with Nevco, an Illinois -based company.

Paslay and his crew are in Carthage this week installing the scoreboard, which overall is 50 feet tall and 58 feet wide. While the video screen is the largest in Texas, the overall scoreboard is not, he said.

Construction crews drilled five holes 23 feet deep for the base that will support the massive structure. They will use cranes to hoist the scoreboard, in pieces, to be mounted on the support beams.

Surratt anticipates the scoreboard will be operational by Aug. 24 in time for the team's first scrimmage against Gladewater, and certainly by Aug. 31, when the Bulldogs take on Gladewater in Carthage.

Not surprisingly, many Carthage sports fans applaud installation of the new Jumbotron, while others consider it an extravagance.

"I think it is awesome to have one," said Carthage High School student Mia Scott.

"They've earned it; that's for sure," said Gabriel Jimenez, manager of Hibbitt Sports in Carthage.

"It is an extreme waste of money," Janna McBride said while shopping Tuesday at HEB.

Another shopper, Dennis English, echoed McBride's sentiments, saying "It is just a lot of extra money that does not need to be spent. It ain't about the kids; it's about pleasing the adults."

Carthage ISD voters approved the expenditure by a margin of 68.6 percent in a recent bond election, although Bulldog Stadium was built in 2008 to accommodate a large scoreboard.

The Jumbotron-type scoreboard features four cameras that can be used to video live action, provide crowd shots, display information or show replays of the game.

Carthage High School television and broadcast students will be among the eight people it takes just to operate the new scoreboard.

"To me, one of the biggest enticements is the learning opportunities we get for our kids, our high school television and broadcasting department," said Glenn Hambrick, Carthage ISD superintendent.

Students, he said, can parlay their skills learned operating the scoreboard directly into a job in the industry, or to get college scholarships.

"That is the thing I like about it. It is expensive and it is a luxury, but there are some benefits to it. It is more than just a showpiece," Hambrick said.

Carthage's Bulldog Booster Club is in charge of selling advertising on the scoreboard to help offset some of the costs.

Already, advertisers have committed $35,000 a year, Hambrick said.

Carthage ISD will join other area districts with video scoreboard advertisement capabilities, including Tyler ISD and Longview.

Tatum ISD has a Jumbotron screen, but does not seek advertisements for its $442,270 expenditure.

Tatum's video screen measures 12 feet by 21 feet, and was installed in 2008. It takes two people in the booth to operate its three-camera scoreboard.

With the addition of the new state-of-the-art scoreboard, Carthage ISD officials anticipate attracting more playoff games, as well as added track and field events in the spring, band contests and graduation ceremonies.

During track and field events, the scoreboard is capable of displaying summarized stats, Paslay said.

In all events, the new scoreboard is interactive with crowds in the bleachers.

"The people in the stands always want to see their faces. Carthage's scoreboard definitely has that capability," Paslay said.

With more than 800,000 LEDs, Carthage ISD's scoreboard is as good as any in a national stadium, Paslay said.

The next largest size Jumbotron scoreboard installed by Nevco is in Beaumont, but the screen is smaller, Paslay said.

The largest overall video scoreboard in the state is in Allen ISD. The 5A school has about 6,000 students, while Carthage ISD has fewer than 3,000 students.

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