For 25 years the Cape Henlopen High School scoreboard has dutifully kept the time and score for countless athletic competitions.
Now, school officials say the end is near.
Superintendent Robert Fulton said the athletic director has told him for years that Cape needs a new scoreboard. During the Nov. 14 school board meeting, representatives from South Dakota-based Daktronics presented some new options. Daktronics specializes in LED scoreboards, the latest in scoreboard technology, which has replaced incandescent lighting used in older scoreboards such as Cape Henlopen's. The company has been around since the 1960s – Cape's 25-year-old scoreboard is a Daktronics product.
Nowadays, Daktronic scoreboards light up Madison Square Garden, stadiums for the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens and thousands of college and high school venues across the country, said Peter Reifenrath, regional development director for Daktronics..
Closer to home, the University of Delaware has a Daktronics scoreboard and Dover High School is considering one with video display for its new facility, he said.
A basic scoreboard with sound system would run about $100,000 including installation, said Mic Spicciati, Mid-Atlantic sales representative for Daktronics. Adding a video display would bring the cost up to $300,000 or more, depending on the size of the video display, he said.
Daktronics has twice brought a travelling video board display to Cape for spectators to see.
“It gives the community the opportunity to say I like what that looks like,” Spicciati said. Most of the time, the travelling video board is in Texas, where dozens of high schools have bought Daktronic scoreboards, he said.
Cicero-North Syracuse High School, a powerhouse sports school in upstate New York, was the first high school in the country to install a Daktronics scoreboard, Spicciati said. Since then, he said, more than a thousand boards have been sold to high schools across the country.
“Most high schools today don't want a regular scoreboard,” Spicciati said. “They want something that does video or offers other features.”
Board member Andy Lewis said he remembers the video board when it came to Cape Henlopen. He said it was a nice feature because it is not limited to football. Soccer, track and field and graduation are all events that could be featured on the video screen.
“Instead of sitting in the stands and saying, 'Yeah, that's my kid,' you'd be able to get a close-up of them,” he said.
Video also would allow crowd-pleasing features such as smile-cam, Spicciati said.
An expanded scoreboard, while pricier than a basic one, would allow for a key revenue booster: advertising.
“We know we need one, but we're trying to save money in doing so,” said Fulton.
Local businesses could purchase space on the board through multi-year contracts, he said. Video would provide more exposure for business sponsors.
“Half-time or quarterly recognition or commercials would provide tangible recognition,” Reifenrath said.
Car dealers, healthcare providers and insurance companies are examples of businesses that might be interested in sponsorship, he said.
Board President Spencer Brittingham said he believes the district could find local sponsors who would want to pay for space on the scoreboard.
“The best move would be to find sponsors who are here in the long run,” he said. “We could find tried and true sponsors and get it done.”
Brittingham said he is leaning toward outright purchase of a new scoreboard with Daktronics instructing district employees how to operate the new technology.
In the long run, Fulton said, scoreboard sponsorship could be a nice revenue stream, and not only for Cape sports.
“Once the scoreboard is paid for, x amount of money coming in could go to other activities,” he said.
Daktronics will return in December to provide the board with more details on a scoreboard that could work at Cape. Brittingham said the board could vote on a contract during the December school board meeting.