Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Mesquite ISD spends nearly $1 million to update screens at Memorial, Hanby
Scoreboard malfunctions put a damper on a number of Mesquite ISD high school games last football season.
The 11-year-old scoreboards at E.H. Hanby and Memorial stadiums suffered a malfunction to the game clock or team name display “just about every game,” said Dennis Hevron, Mesquite ISD’s director of technical services. And the technology was so old the district had trouble finding spare parts to repair them.
“It didn’t look like a fair game because one [team] name would be up and the other wouldn’t be up, so it was kind of an embarrassing thing for us,” Hevron said.
To address the problems with the aging boards, Mesquite ISD invested a little under $1 million from its operating budget in January to rewire the boards at Hanby and Memorial stadiums and replace the rotating advertising plates with digital screens, said Elizabeth Fernandez, director of communications and marketing. She said the upgraded boards will be ready by the start of the 2013 football season in August.
Time for a change
“When those scoreboards were first bought and installed, they were kind of on the cutting edge,” Athletic Director Steve Bragg said. “But 10 years later, they were on the back end of technology, and they just had to be updated.”
Bragg said the revamping should result in larger, higher-quality replay video, more efficient advertising and an easier repair process.
“It was time for us to update, and this was just the most cost-efficient way to do it rather than buy new scoreboards,” Bragg said. “That would have doubled the cost rather than retrofitting. We like the look of our boards; we just had to change the technology inside the boards.”
Hevron said when a scoreboard problem appeared during a game, technicians were often unable to fix it until after the game was finished because of the age of the wiring. The new technology should allow for fewer problems and quicker response times, he said.
“With this new technology, the way they’ve got it configured and wired, we anticipate it being a lot more reliable,” Hevron said.
One of the district’s biggest concerns with the boards, Bragg said, involved the rotating advertising plates on either side of the video screen. Each plate could accommodate two corporate sponsors, but by the 2012 season, they could no longer rotate properly.
The 2013 scoreboards will look like one big digital screen, with video and replay in the middle and corporate sponsors on the sides, Bragg said. Not only does this allow the boards to display more corporate sponsors during the course of a game, but it also removes the expense of producing physical signage.
“Now all [sponsors] have to do is send us a JPEG logo that we can format in our computer,” Bragg said. “So now it saves them in signage creation, and they like that. It’s a much more versatile board.”
Attracting a crowd
In nearby Garland ISD, Williams Stadium is also undergoing significant additions. The district is installing the stadium’s first video boards, replacing the playing turf and resurfacing the track in preparation for the 2013 season at an estimated cost of $2.5 million, according to a district press release.
Robert McSpadden, also known as “Texas Bob,” is a high-school football enthusiast who compiles of an online database of Texas football stadiums. He said he believes stadiums with up-to-date video boards are more likely to host playoff games.
“If you want to be a competitor in the playoff market, you need to have all the bells and whistles to compete,” McSpadden said.
Bragg said while Mesquite already hosts six to 10 playoff games a year, the condition of the boards might have become a problem for participating schools if left unchecked much longer. The upgrades, he said, should make the district an attractive playoff destination for years to come.
“Anytime we can bring 10,000 to 20,000 people into the community, it’s a good thing,” Bragg said.
Neighborsgo reporter Daniel Houston can be reached at 214-977-8024.