With its success on the field, the atmosphere at Center Grove home football games has been electric in recent years.
But an upgrade to the overall fan experience will have to wait.
The Center Grove school board has decided not to replace the videoboard at the football stadium, citing concerns about the need and how the district should approach marketing in general. The proposed 19-feet-by-25-feet LED monitor would have been nearly five times larger than the stadium’s current videoboard.
Center Grove administrators had proposed entering in a five-year lease to purchase a new videoboard at a cost of $298,925.
“Is this a necessity, or is this just a want because it looks better?” school board member Adam Norman said. Norman, Scott Armstrong and Jack Russell voted against the project. Carol Tumey and Rob Daniels voted in favor of buying the new board.
The existing board is 12-feet-by-9-feet, and has been in place at the football stadium since 2012. But spectators have complained that the board is difficult to see, said Paul Gabriel, chief financial officer for Center Grove schools. Since new bleachers installed in 2016 increased seating capacity, the problem has only been exasperated, Gabriel said.
“I will tell you that we have new seats in that football stadium, and if you sit up halfway, you cannot see what’s on the video screen,” school board member Carol Tumey said. “I would agree that we need to be looking ahead at things. But at this point, the videoboard we have right now is almost totally ineffective.”
The videoboard would have been built by South Dakota-based company Daktronics, which specializes in large-scale visual monitors such as those found in sports arenas. Then Center Grove would sign a lease agreement with Sign Effects, a scoreboard company out of Ohio, which would sell advertisements to pay for the videoboard.
Details of the proposed lease agreement had not been finalized, Gabriel said.
The advertisement strategy is the same route the school took with the current video screen. The videoboard cost about $90,000, and it was paid off within three years.
If ads didn’t cover the entire cost of the proposed board, money for the annual payment could have come from the district’s capital projects fund, Gabriel said.
Though the new board is more expensive, it also has an LED screen that would have a higher resolution and better picture, which would hopefully attract more sponsors, Gabriel said.
The idea of adding a feature of this magnitude without raising taxes or taking money away from education makes it attractive, Daniels said. He had faith that the administration’s plan for advertising would make that happen.
“If we can do this at a zero-cost, this is something that will really benefit the community,” he said.
But board members had reservations about the move. With the videoboard being located in the football stadium, the effectiveness of it as a marketing tool was muted. The school district would be better served coming up with an overall marketing strategy, Armstrong said.
By carefully mapping out how Center Grove approaches advertising, it can maximize the revenue it gets from items such as a videoboard, Armstrong said.
“It’s going to sit in the football stadium and be used for eight to 10 events a year, which will limit our advertising,” he said. “We seem to focus on things for the gym, things for the football stadium, the soccer field. But maybe we should think about an overall advertising strategy that will attract more advertising and give them more places to advertise.”
Russell was also concerned about the administration’s approach to this process and how it had been presented to the board.
“What I’m hearing a lot of tonight with the questions back and forth is a whole lot of cart-before-the-horse,” he said. “I agree with Mr. Norman: Is this a need, or is this a want on this particular item?”
Superintendent Richard Arkanoff offered to bring back a marketing plan for the board to give further direction about the district’s approach to advertising.