During the Thursday, July 9, Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education meeting, Big Walnut High School Athletic Director Brian Shelton said the aging scoreboard at the high school’s football stadium is going to be replaced near the end of this month with a new state-of-the-art, video capable scoreboard.
Shelton said the new scoreboard will cost $120,000, but will generate $28,000 per year in advertising revenue, paying for itself in a little over four years. After the scoreboard is paid for, advertising dollars will go to the school’s athletic fund.
Shelton said vinyl advertising on the scoreboard would cost $2,900 per year, per panel; that potential advertisers could contact him, but space is selling faster than he anticipated.
“It’s not just the ad panel advertisers will pay for, there’s plenty of extras,” Shelton said. “Each advertiser will get recognition with a Game of the Week designation, they’ll be able to make a Player of the Week nomination for any sport, they’ll receive free season tickets to all sports, and team pictures for their office updated every year. It’s a pretty neat package.”
Shelton said a video screen on the scoreboard would show live game action, interviews and additional paid commercials.
“If we sell out of vinyl panels for the year and somebody is interested in an advertisement for just one game only, we can still give them advertising space on the video screen,” Shelton said.
The new scoreboard is not the only improvement Big Walnut sports fans will enjoy this year. New state of the art LED lights are being installed in the high school gymnasium. In past year’s Big Walnut High School’s gymnasium had a reputation of the poorest lighting in the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division.
“Some folks might think it’s a costly move, but the LED lights will save enough electricity to pay for themselves in four years,” Shelton said. “We’re looking at new scoreboards for the gym during 2016-17, and they will also draw in advertising dollars.”
Shelton said some folk’s think that all high school athletic directors care about is football and basketball, but that’s not the case.
“I care about all sports, but the reality is football and basketball gate receipts help support all the other sports,” Shelton said. “The challenge is finding creative ways to bring in revenue for the athletic fund. That’s my goal was scoreboards that have changeable advertising.”
Shelton the OCC realignment that goes into effect is 2016-17 will have a negative impact on Big Walnut gate receipts because the district’s new division schools are farther from home than current division teams; that the farther folks have to travel, the less likely they are to attend an away game at Big Walnut.
Big Walnut is currently in the Capital Division, along with Delaware Hayes, Franklin Heights, Mt. Vernon, New Albany, Olentangy Braves, Olentangy Orange and Watkins Memorial.
In 2016-17 Big Walnut’s OCC division will include Canal Winchester, Franklin Heights, Groveport, New Albany, and Newark.
Shelton said last year’s Olentangy and Liberty game, because the schools are close together, drew a $20,000 gate.
“Even playing schools close to us, a good gate at Big Walnut is only $10,000,” Shelton said. “With the realignment, and conference games like Newark and Groveport that are more distant, fewer folks from visiting teams will travel to Big Walnut and we’ll have even lower gate receipts.”
The Ohio High School Athletic Association also shuffled divisions, a biannual process.
Shelton said Football barely remains in Division III; Volleyball, Softball, Girls Soccer and Girls Basketball are down to DII; Boys Basketball, Boys Soccer, Baseball, and Cross-Country are DI.
Shelton said that overall participation in athletics at Big Walnut High School looks like it will be at its highest level in school history; that his expectations for a winning 2015-16 athletic season are high.
“We have the most experienced coaching staff we’ve ever had; they’re really committed to our program,” Shelton said. “It’s exciting to see kids getting out during summer months and keeping busy. Since school got out in the spring there’s not a day you come by that there’s not coaches and players here. I’ve always said the difference between a good team and a great team is the time spent outside of season.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola may be reached at 614-266-6093.