Feature Article - September 2014
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Scoreboard Watching

Trends in Scoreboards & Video Displays

By Joe Bush

"Scoreboard watching" is ingrained in sports terminology. It means that when a team is in a tight race for a playoff spot, the team and its fans pay close attention not just to the score of the contest they are involved in, but to that of the team or teams challenging for the postseason berth.

Many professional and collegiate stadiums have the sophistication and resources to show out-of-town scores, but they would be rare at the high school level. What are more affordable are scoreboards that show important information about the game, provide room for school colors and logos, and help pay for themselves with not only digital or video capability but also with energy-saving technology.

LEDs & Efficiency

"Essentially, every high school wants a video display for their athletic facility, but due to the high cost, unfortunately, they have not been able to afford one," said Mike Daniel, CEO of a Murray, Ky.-based scoreboard manufacturer. "However, similar to digital cameras, the price of video displays has been falling while the quality has been improving. Video displays not only dramatically improve the fan experience at games by creating an entertainment event, but they also help solve an increasing issue relating to funding. Video displays provide a great vehicle for revenue generation through ads."

Video display installation is trending for amateur arenas, not only because of their multiple uses, but because their LED lighting saves energy, has a long life span, looks great, and maybe most important, the old incandescent lighting products are not being manufactured anymore. For instance, one scoreboard manufacturer no longer stocks incandescent bulbs for purchase, instead offering parts number and specifications for customers to help the search for bulbs online.

"LED has been the only option available for scoreboards and video displays for quite some time, but with incandescent bulbs no longer mass-produced and readily available, the option to upgrade old incandescent displays to LED technology should be considered," said Jason Kuhl, product marketing for a Brookings, S.D.-based scoreboard manufacturer. "When comparing the two technologies, LED is more energy-efficient, but the other advantages of less maintenance and greater off-state contrast are usually a larger factor to the end users."

Duane Walker, the athletic director at Hardin High School in Hardin, Mont., recently upgraded his school's previous incandescent scoreboard to a new LED scoreboard.

"By upgrading, our customers are able to save money on operating costs, have a better presentation and have quicker repairs with less wait-time on parts," Kuhl said. "We also offer the option to upgrade their scoreboard with a retrofit kit so they can keep their existing scoreboard and just replace the digit panels."

J.M. Allain, president and CEO of a New York-based scoreboard manufacturer, said that with energy conservation rebates and grants throughout the United States and Canada, in many cases the display products can be heavily subsidized by the savings.

"Whereas most facilities will go through at least an LED lighting retrofit during the next few years, our strong suggestion is to do the upgrade now and cash in on the savings immediately and use those very savings to pay for the displays, either for game day or advertising purposes," Allain said.

He added that his company will soon announce a broader energy portfolio, potentially increasing savings. This will allow facilities of all sizes to either immediately do upgrades or new installs they have been putting off, or implement new and better systems.

"This is the biggest opportunity for us, combining displays with our energy offerings in order to make the systems bigger and better," Allain said, "all while saving significant amounts of money and being environmentally conscious."