Grand Island Senior High’s Memorial Stadium is coming to life thanks to a new scoreboard installed earlier this month.
Virgil Harden, chief financial officer for Grand Island Public Schools, said the scoreboard is about 23 feet high and 41 feet wide and is believed to be the largest display board currently at a Nebraska high school stadium.
Dan Petsch, director of buildings and grounds, said crews began installing the footings for the new scoreboard “several weeks ago.”
“They dug the holes and poured the footings,” Petsch said. “Those had to sit out for a week and then they came in ... (two weeks ago) and set the steel columns and started putting up the components. Then, this (last) week, what they are doing is hooking up all the controls — all the wiring and everything that interfaces with the scoreboard — so that it can do what it does.”
GISH Activities Director Cindy Wells said the scoreboard was lit up for the first time last Tuesday.
Petsch said the scoreboard will be ready to use next Wednesday.
Harden said the “turnkey price” to install and buy the scoreboard was $548,415.
He said 100% of the cost was secured through sponsorships.
“Not a penny of taxpayer dollars will fund the scoreboard over its lifespan,” Harden said. “We are putting up the money to finance it initially, but we get paid back with the revenue from that (sponsorships).”
Jennifer Worthington, GIPS chief of strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement, said sponsorships were designed to generate revenue to pay for the scoreboard.
Any additional revenue will go to GISH to be used for various student activities.
Worthington said she secured advertisers for the new scoreboard. She began by working with Traci Skalberg, executive director of the GIPS Foundation, to develop a list of major donors so they could have the first opportunity.
From there, Worthington said, she reached out to people involved with GIPS and advertisers she thought would be interested in participating.
She said the scoreboard has three sponsor levels: anchor, founding and premier. There are 16 total advertisers, with four of them being anchors, six being founding and six being premier.
“The anchor and founding partners get a very large sign that people can see any time they are near the stadium,” Worthington said. “All three partners get additional digital content. We will be able to run 30-second commercials from our anchor sponsors on the scoreboard. We are so fortunate that we have filled all of our advertiser spots.”
She said each of the 16 advertisers signed a five-year agreement, meaning they will be the sole advertisers on the scoreboard during that time. When the agreements near the end date, the advertisers will either renew their agreements or GIPS will find new advertisers for the scoreboard.
When asked why GIPS chose to install a new scoreboard at Memorial Stadium, Harden said, “Why not?” With Lanny Martin donating a lead gift of $10 million for the Memorial Stadium renovation project, it made sense to upgrade the scoreboard as well.
“I think in just trying to compete for state events, we have to put our best foot forward,” Harden said. “Why not have state events here at Grand Island if we can? There is no guarantee we will just because we did this (project), but it is one more nicety that can be paid for with no taxpayer dollars. There is no reason we can’t do it here.”
Worthington said that as GIPS started fundraising and work on the Memorial Stadium renovation project, the district knew it “was going to just be a wonderful stadium,” but that the scoreboard did not meet those standards.
“We really found that, as we looked at things, we wanted a new scoreboard,” she said. “We had done this in one of our gyms, so we knew how wonderful a digital scoreboard could look and wanted the same thing for Memorial Stadium events.”
Skalberg said the new scoreboard is “state of the art” and is perfect for the “premier class A facility” that Memorial Stadium has become.
“I am just super excited that we have that to offer to our student-athletes and our community,” she said. “We are going to be able to do a lot of cool things because we’ve got that scoreboard that most communities won’t be able to offer. It really sets us up to be able to have big events come to Grand Island.”
Wells, the activities director, said students in the Academy of Business and Communication will have the opportunity to create slideshows, advertising and other things to be displayed on the scoreboard as part of Chris Holten’s graphic design and multimedia production classes.
“He will work with students in the academy to start having them be very creative in developing the slides and working with advertising,” she said. “That means they have to go out and work directly with businesses on what we will put up there on the scoreboard.”
Wells said GISH currently has three cameras for students to use to record games. She added students also will take clips of other sports and fine arts to display on the scoreboard.
“So it will not be used just for football, but for other sports and some fine arts things,” Wells said. “We hope that this will give our students an opportunity to someday go and work behind the scenes and see what it all takes to make a scoreboard work.”