Feature Article - July 2008
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Know the Score

Scoreboard Options Run the Gamut

By Dawn Klingensmith

Economical Options

"In today's marketplace, there is a scoreboard available that will meet the needs of every type of organization—small or large, expensive or inexpensive, it's all out there," said Bethany Reeder, marketing director for a Murray, Ky.-based scoreboard manufacturer.

Though decidedly low-tech, flip-style scoreboards get the job done, and some sell for as little as $30. They show home and guest teams' scores, usually up to 99 points, on laminated or plastic cards that the scorekeeper flips to reveal new digits as the game progresses. Also available are foldable baseball scoreboards with magnetic numbers and space to record the number of runs for each of nine innings.

The desire for freedom and flexibility in the parks and recreation segment, coupled with the need for affordability, is driving development and sales of portable multisport scoreboards, and LED lighting—now the industry standard—is now widely available in this relatively inexpensive class of scoreboard. Indoor tabletop models with super-bright, 100,000-hour-rated LED digits sell for a few hundred dollars. Portable indoor scoreboards, as well as lightweight, fence-mountable outdoor models, are usually battery-powered and controlled by wireless, handheld remotes.

"Handheld wireless controllers are a recent trend in the industry," said Raquel Ehlmann, associate marketing manager for a Greenville, Ill.-based scoreboard manufacturer.

Such controls offer "extreme battery life, great signal strength and secure networking with the ability to communicate with multiple scoreboards," she added. "Because this control is economical, we have found many little leagues and park and rec facilities make the handheld control part of their standard equipment for coaches; therefore, no one is scrambling around looking for a key to the equipment room prior to a game."

Large, sturdy, electrically charged portable scoreboards intended for outdoor use offer large display areas and feature rugged wheels and handles for ease of mobility. Some of the higher-end portable scoreboards are designed to accommodate static signage for sponsor recognition.

Let the Sun Shine

Nationwide efforts to "go green," along with a number of other factors, are such that solar-powered scoreboards soon will have their day in the sun, so to speak.

"Zoning obstacles, ordinances and trenching around utilities in remote areas are all reasons users are moving to solar power," said Rachel Ehlmann, associate marketing manager for a leading scoreboard manufacturer.

Panels soak up sunlight, which powers the scoreboard, and backup batteries are intended to ensure continuous operation in the event of inadequate sunlight.

Solar scoreboards cut costs by eliminating the need to dig a trench and run wiring conduit.

"With the advent of wireless communication, there is no need to run communication cable to the product; therefore, by using wireless devices, the entire display can be operated without any of these obstacles," Ehlmann explained.

The not-so-bright side: "Solar products require a battery to store the power when there is no sunlight. When running an all-day tournament, there is a potential of not having a full day of sunlight, and you may have to replace the battery midday," Ehlmann added.