Feature Article - November 2009
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Scoreboard Showdowns

The Latest & Greatest Is All Part of the Game

By Dawn Klingensmith

High Cost of Cutting Corners

Some installers have cut corners during installation. Whether due to inexperience or a misguided attempt to cut costs, this has sometimes led to structural failures, Hatton said. Reputable, experienced manufacturers make scoreboard systems that meet strict standards for high winds and other harsh conditions, but when manufacturers' foundation requirements aren't met, scoreboards have been known to topple even when wind conditions aren't particularly high, Hatton explained.

The foundation does, in fact, contribute a lot to the cost of a scoreboard, as does the advice and expertise of a structural engineer. But do not reduce the recommended number of poles or footings as a cost-saving measure, because scoreboards are big, flat and top-heavy and therefore vulnerable to gusts of wind.

Another safety concern arises when sheet-metal ad panels aren't bolted on properly, Hatton said.

Still, as long as safety isn't compromised, the consensus says to buy the best scoreboard that still fits in the budget. Among cash-strapped sports facilities, "I think one of the common mistakes is to try to spend as little money as possible, but that's just asking for trouble," said Scott Chitwood, co-founder of Carolina Courts in Indian Trail, N.C., which has five regulation-sized basketball courts that double as 10 volleyball courts, which he recently outfitted with five scoreboards. "If you're in a recreation league and you pull out your scoreboard for 10 weeks out of the year, then you can probably get away with a low-priced model, but if you're using it year-round, you're absolutely crazy to try to cut corners. I knew our scoreboards would get such a workout that I needed something top-of-line."

Another common mistake "sounds like the opposite of what I just said," Chitwood said, "and that's spending too much on options you won't use. Don't get talked into buying all the bells and whistles unless you're absolutely sure you'll use them."

Keep in mind, too, that there are ways to "jazz up a scoreboard without going all new," Hatton said, such as adding a message center on top for statistics and simple ads, or installing stat panels to sides. You can also add or upgrade sound.

"There are new sound systems you can just mount on top of a scoreboard," Hatton said. Sound enhances spectacle, so one widespread consumer trend across the industry is increased demand for scoreboards with high-quality, built-in audio systems, she added.