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Spring Hill to spend $490K on scoreboard

By Meredith Shamburger
April 17, 2017 at 11:53 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2017 at 7:14 a.m.

Spring Hill ISD board member Karen Wright was the lone vote against a proposed $490,526 digital scoreboard during the board's Monday   meeting.

Spring Hill ISD is set to spend nearly a half-million dollars for a new digital scoreboard at Panther Stadium after the school board approved its purchase Monday night.

"The price tag is very high, but I think the benefits for the district outweigh the price tag," said Superintendent Steve Snell. Those benefits include increased advertising revenue that, he told trustees, could make the system pay for itself, and a way to make the district more appealing to prospective students.

The board voted 6-1 to work with Nevco Scoreboards on an approximately 20-by-32-foot digital scoreboard that would be erected near the stadium's ticket booth.

The back of the $490,526 scoreboard would include a 7-by-10 foot digital marquee to broadcast announcements and district highlights.

Spring Hill ISD will pay for the scoreboard with funds made available by refinancing its 2008 bond, funds Snell said come with zero interest.

Trustee Karen Wright was the lone vote against the proposal after an hour-long presentation and discussion. She cited concerns that the district was still working to accomplish projects from the 2008 bond and characterized the scoreboard as a want, not a need.

"We've got to go back and review what we promised our taxpayers before we take on something that has not really even been out there," Wright said. "A lot of people don't even know that this is happening."

Committee proposal

Athletic Director Kelly Mercer brought three different proposals to the board Monday, recommending Nevco Scoreboards alongside Snell.

The idea came after a district committee was formed to look at the stadium's sound system and committee members started talking about how they could enhance the game day experience, Mercer said.

The new scoreboard will consist of LED video panels formed to make one giant video screen, as well as a new sound system and a decorative medal header. The district will be able to broadcast video and separate content on the screen into different quadrants.

The district will need to get power to the new scoreboard site, either by bringing it from existing lines that power the stadium lights or the street. Nevco's proposal also includes training for use of the system and a two-year agreement to service all of the district's scoreboards, regardless of brand.

Nevco Scoreboards has installed scoreboards in other East Texas school districts. In 2012, Carthage ISD spent $750,000 on a scoreboard at its stadium. And Mercer noted that Henderson's scoreboard, which was installed last year, had some issues with the sound system. He said when he brought it up with Nevco, they added $25,000 in spare parts to their proposal.

Revenue hopes

One of the draws for the project, Snell said, is that the district could increase its revenue from scoreboard and marquee ads. That revenue is split between athletics and arts programs. Currently the district revenue is about $24,000 a year from its billboards.

Snell estimated the new scoreboard would bring in four or five times that amount, and told trustees he wouldn't have brought the proposal to them if he didn't think it could pay for itself.

The scoreboard also would give the district more means to highlight the accomplishments of Spring Hill students in academics, sports and other areas, he said.

"The reason we're bringing this to you tonight is because the potential that one single scoreboard has not only to generate revenue for the district that we currently do not have, but the ability to increase marketability and desirability to not only play sports in Spring Hill ISD, but to be a student at Spring Hill ISD," he said.

Other concerns

Trustee Brad Rogers agreed with Snell that the district would be able to recoup the scoreboard's price tag through ad revenue. Rogers said it's just a matter of when that happens — but in the meantime, he noted, the district won't be paying interest on the expense.

Trustee Ben Shelton said he had had more concerns about the "prioritization of everything else that's going on" than the scoreboard's price tag. He encouraged his colleagues to make sure they are vigilant about getting other planned infrastructure projects done quickly.

Wright said the scoreboard was a good idea but with so many other future infrastructure needs coming up in the future, she couldn't vote for the project Monday. She also expressed concerns the district could generate enough ad money to pay for the project when it was already struggling to generate money from current scoreboards.

"I can't see the math, and I'm sorry," she said.

Also Monday, trustees voted to spend $42,000 replacing the heating and air conditioning system at the Spring Hill Primary School gym. Money for that project also is coming from bond refinancing, and that a new system could reduce operations costs.

Maintenance Director Billy Miller and Snell told trustees the current HVAC system had reached the end of its life and was working at only 28 percent capacity.

"It's just time to bite the bullet," Snell said.

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