December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria school district earmarks $75,000 for upsized scoreboard

Stacie Starr cheers after finding out Ely Stadium will be getting a new stadium score board. Starr is shown with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan during the production of “Live! with Kelly and Michael” in New York. DAVID RUSSELL/DISNEY-ABC DOMESTIC TELEVISION

Stacie Starr cheers after finding out Ely Stadium will be getting a new stadium scoreboard during the production of “Live! with Kelly and Michael” in New York. It turns out, the new scoreboard will cost the district $75,000. DAVID RUSSELL/DISNEY-ABC DOMESTIC TELEVISION

ELYRIA — That brand-new, state-of-the-art digital wireless scoreboard Elyria Schools thought it was receiving free of charge from the “Live with Kelly and Michael” show is not going to be free at all.

The nationally syndicated show, which named the district’s own Stacie Starr as the winner of the 2014 National Top Teacher Search, gifted Elyria with a new scoreboard worth roughly $16,000.

However, when it comes to scoreboards and stadiums, size matters, which explains how Elyria has gone from basking in the glory of winning a free scoreboard to the school board approving spending $75,000 on a scoreboard upgrade.

“We, of course, are very happy, grateful and appreciative the national show recognized our teacher and they even thought of her school,” Superintendent Paul Rigd said. “We don’t want to sound ungrateful. That’s a large amount of money, and we are very grateful the show thought of us with this offer.”

Here’s the rub.

The $16,000 the show allocated for a scoreboard would get one roughly 8 feet in size.

Ely Stadium is in need on a new, updated scoreboard for football games. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Ely Stadium is in need on a new, updated scoreboard for football games. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

The current scoreboard — although it is old and outdated — is 32 feet in length. The same size scoreboard in the digital wireless model selected for the school would be roughly $100,000, said Rigda.

“We couldn’t spend that kind of money even with the $16,000 donation. We knew we needed a scoreboard, so the question became how to get a comparable scoreboard that would fit inside our stadium and how would we pay for it,” Rigda said.

School Specialty Inc., is the company the show used to provide the scoreboard, and the district has since worked out a deal with them to purchase a 24-foot scoreboard with all the bells and whistles previous announced — radio-controlled with wireless access in the press box and a 25-hour rechargeable battery — for roughly $80,000.

The $75,000 school board members approved spending Wednesday includes $64,000 for the scoreboard (the balance made up with the $16,000 contribution from the school) and $11,000 for contingency costs in case a problem arises.

Jim Wall, the district’s director of business services, said the district is on a tight schedule to have the old scoreboard removed, the new one installed and employees trained how to use it before the first home football game Sept. 5.

“My expectation is it will be up and running for that first game,” Wall said. “We are going to do everything in our power to make that happen and told everyone they will have what they need to get it done.”

To offset the cost of the scoreboard — the district’s general fund is advancing the $75,000 — there will be 12 advertising spots available that are being sold for $1,000 a year for five years. Contracts for seven spots have already been signed.

Wall said five advertising spaces are still available. The advertising revenue will be returned to the general fund over time and then to the Athletic Department.

“I think I can speak for many people when I say I had no idea what a scoreboard would cost,” Rigda said. “I think we all thought that at first it was going to be free. But the bottom line is we needed a new scoreboard anyway, and that is why we told the show that is what we needed when they came to us with a wish list.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.