Skip to content

Tuscola board of education members seek sponsorships for new scoreboard

Daktronics salesmen present the proposed scoreboard for Tuscola High School during a meeting Jan. 11. Photo by David Porter.

By Dominik Stallings

Tuscola School Board member Wage Wilcox is leading an effort to sell sponsorships for a new scoreboard on the athletic field and inside the gym, which would cost approximately $400,000.

“The money we get will drive what we get,” Wilcox said.

Nine sponsorships are needed to pay for the cost of the two scoreboards, said Wilcox. He added they would need to come up with these nine sponsorships in the next two months to secure funding for the scoreboards.

After that, they will have to go with “Plan B,” purchasing a new scoreboard with school funds. Wade said they couldn’t wait any longer, since the old scoreboard on the athletic field blew down in spring 2021 and needs to be replaced.

In April, 2022, Superintendent Gary Alexander recommended replacing the board with a model costing $28,399 plus installation.

In the Jan. 11 meeting, two Tuscola Board of Education members, Wade Wilcox and Darold Spillman, along with other school officials, met with Daktronics representatives. The company designs and manufactures electronic scoreboards, programmable display systems and large-screen video displays. The company claims to have an 80 percent market share in college-level scoreboard manufacturing.

Salesmen Chris Brokowski and Brian Egel showed the audience the features and dimensions of the scoreboard as well as the sponsorship opportunities to fund the high-end video board.

The scoreboard would need four “Anchor Partnerships” sold at $10,000 per year for a five-year term and five “Founding Partnerships” sold at $6,000 per year for a five-year term.

Daktronics said the scoreboard is under a five-year warranty if purchased and includes parts, not labor. After the five years are over, the school could purchase a maintenance contract. However, Daktronics salesmen were unsure of the costs and claimed it could range from $5,000 to $7,000 per year. There are also service providers in Champaign and Bloomington.

Alexander said that insurance for the scoreboard would fall under the umbrella cost of the school property.

Alexander said that after the scoreboard equipment is paid off, they would continue to use ad revenue to pay for a replacement of the scoreboard and fund the maintenance.

Daktronics said that schools that have paid off the equipment make, on average, between $40,000 and $50,000 in advertising revenue per year.

Alexander said there would be no intention to use advertising money as an additional revenue stream for the school district if they purchased the equipment and paid it off.

Wilcox added that after the equipment is paid off, they could potentially offer advertisements for local companies at lower rates. However, he didn’t offer any concrete numbers. The sponsorships they are currently seeking are aimed at larger businesses in the region.

Wilcox said he had contacted Sarah Bush Hospital, Carle Clinic, John Deer, OSF, Syngenta, Ford of Tuscola, advertisers such as Corey Kleiss, Caleb Englehardt, and insurance companies like State Farm, Country and Loman Ray.

Athletic Director Ryan Hornaday said that the school football schedule is changing and will include Bloomington area schools. The change to the football conference would attract a geographically wider audience, which could be more attractive to potential sponsors, he said.

Board member Darold Spillman said they want to use taxpayer dollars to serve students better by taking care of infrastructure and facilities first. Spillman said they don’t want to use money that can be used for facilities to pay for the scoreboard. He added that community members don’t want to spend taxpayer money on the new scoreboard.

A large part of the presentation focused on student and teacher involvement in the management of the scoreboard. Daktronics said they provide a curriculum that involves students in content creation for the scoreboards whether that be filmed commercials or graphic designs. The scoreboards could be used to showcase things besides sports, such as a student of the month or similar highlights.

Daktronics said the curriculum could help students get into industries heavily involved with similar technology, such as marketing, sports entertainment and more. They offer a free program called Crew Connect, to schools with a Daktronics video display. The program can help students receive education and jobs in event production after high school or college graduation.

Wilcox said that 30 students at the University of Illinois run its scoreboard, some of which have received scholarships.

Tolono Unity purchased similar boards from Daktronics; a football scoreboard four years ago and last year during the fall, another scoreboard for the gym.

Tolono Unity Athletic Director Scott Hamilton said the school is currently doing limited work with the scoreboards but plans on creating a graphic design class to incorporate work with the scoreboard.

“I think it’s kind of like anything else with technology. You can always do more. If we had more students involved with it, there would be a lot of opportunities for growth.” said Hamilton.

Hamilton says that right now, the scoreboard is working out for the schools. He said they are getting good feedback after games.

“I think it provides a lot of great opportunities for the kids. We use it in our PE classes, so it’s used in education,” said Hamilton.

Alexander said that staff would have to be involved in the management of the scoreboard. He said the school would lean on Tracy Hornaday, who received a degree in graphic design. She said there could be potential for a digital marketing class with the new scoreboard.

According to Daktronics, the new scoreboard would have a longevity of 10 to 15 years. Alexander said the original scoreboard was purchased in 1985.

Ryan Hornaday said,” We got more than our money’s worth on that. It’s time for an upgrade of some sort.”

Some of the advocates for the new scoreboard believe that it would be an investment in the students.

“I’m not denying that those aren’t big chunks, but it’s an investment for the kids,” said Wilcox.

Leave a Comment