Texas School Wastes $1.35M on Sports Jumbotron

Texans love high school football and pump exorbitant amounts of taxpayer dollars into funding NFL-style stadiums, but now one school boasts a brand new $1.35 million state-of-the-art jumbotron system, only it remains unclear how the district plans to pay for it.

Last weekend, Seguin High School unveiled the first of two high-definition LED screens at the 61-year-old Matador Stadium where they play five home games a year. The jumbotron is a 1,403 square foot video display with a 16-foot by 4-foot timer. The second 10-foot tall, 19-foot wide video screen, a “tailgate board,” will face the stadium parking lot. The combined size of the two screens will result in a whopping 1,590 square feet of Friday night techno-lights and cost the district $1.35 million.

The Seguin Gazette reported school district officials called it the largest high school scoreboard system in the country. However, the largest single stand-alone high school screen is the 1,513 square foot jumbotron at the Norcross Community Stadium in Georgia.

Seguin Independent School District Superintendent Stetson Roane defended the two screen system, although it remains unclear how they intend to finance it. Originally, he proposed folding the costs of the state-of-the-art scoreboards into a request for U.S. Department of Education Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) but using federal funds in this manner raised eyebrows at the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Ultimately, the TEA approved the district to pursue a $10 million QZAN bond after Seguin ISD submitted an amended funding request to the TEA that omitted the pricy scoreboards.

Roane also suggested funding the jumbotrons through the district’s fund balance, financing, or a combination of the two. A Seguin ISD official said the district does not have to pay for the system until after the second scoreboard is completed, which gives them some time to strategize a payment plan, according to KSAT.

More recently, school district spokesman Sean Hoffman said Seguin ISD seeks to fund the jumbotrons through advertising revenue. Hoffman told the Gazette: “We are in the beginning stages of working with Nevco on a marketing plan which we will have opportunities for area and regional businesses to promote their products and services at Matador Stadium, through our tailgate video board as well as inside the performing arts center.”

Nevco is the Illinois-based LED scoreboard, video display, and electric signage powerhouse the school district hired for Matador Stadium’s “new jaw-dropping video display and audio solution,” according to a company press release.

Roane told the San Antonio Express-News, their two-year plan is to acquire advertising and sponsorship revenue to pay for the system with the potential for it to become a revenue stream once it is paid off.

Resident Elaina Reihl, whose children graduated from the school district, disagreed with the purchase and how Seguin ISD now contemplates funding it. “As a business owner myself, I know that’s a lot of money to be putting on the shoulders of local businesses.” In June, she told WOAI: “Nobody really wants to see that amount of money being spent on a jumbotron for the stadium.”

Seguin ISD board of trustees approved spending up to $1.5 million for the system. It was a hefty price tag that board member Barbara Effenberger found troubling. She said her constituents urged her to vote against the high-priced scoreboards. In June, she did and was the lone trustee to cast a “no” vote. “I felt like at this time, with the building of our new high school and a lot of other financial obligations, that it was an excessive cost,” Effinger told WOAI.

A district press release credits Roane with the idea of purchasing the million-plus dollar system. He said his reason for the expenditure was that neighboring school districts have similar gargantuan systems. “I think giving our kids some of the same things other communities have is in line,” he said. “Over the years I have attended events at many high school stadiums across the state. What sets the memorable ones apart from the others is the scoreboard and its overall video capacity, he told the Gazette.

Roane envisions the system will serve other purposes beyond football, drawing people to the stadium for other athletic and community events, proving itself an asset to the school district. “Seguin ISD’s new video scoreboard system features a concert-quality sound system which will allow us to host a wide variety of community and athletic events,” he said in the release. “I’m looking forward to hosting movie night at the stadium, regional track meets, high school playoff games, band performances, you name it. The sky is the limit when it comes to new opportunities created for our community.”

He also claims Seguin will transform this into an educational experience by having students run the scoreboard “to acquire skills they can use in the workforce after they graduate high school,” according to the Gazette.

Hoffman said school district officials hope the high-price jumbotron system will pay for itself through these marketing means. However, the Express-News reported if Seguin ISD cannot obtain enough advertising and sponsorship dollars to pay for the system, Roane said the school district will find a way to cover the cost.

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