COLUMBUS — The city’s advertising plan is paying off.
Those commercials football fans watch during breaks in the action at Pawnee Park’s Memorial Stadium will soon be covering the costs for more upgrades to the athletic facility.
When the massive 31-by-25-foot scoreboard was approved in March 2012, the $238,457 price tag was covered by the city’s general fund with a goal of reimbursing that account through advertising revenue over five years.
Although some doubted the plan — the LED video board that features a built-in speaker system was approved on a 6-2 vote by the city council — it’s now a money-maker.
The in-game advertising and sponsorships bring in $56,000 a year, with roughly $50,000 heading to city coffers and a percentage going to South Dakota-based Daktronics, which manufactured the scoreboard and sells a majority of the ads. This allowed the city to reimburse the general fund for the original purchase price within that five-year goal.
Now, city staff can begin looking at new ways to spend the advertising dollars, which are earmarked for stadium improvements.
The first project was approved Monday night when the city council voted to spend $16,385 to upgrade the video board.
Like all technology, Public Property Director Doug Moore said, the equipment becomes outdated after five years.
“A couple of the computers are on their last leg,” he said, noting that this has caused some malfunctions.
The improvements purchased through Daktronics will replace some of the equipment and software, giving the scoreboard increased capabilities.
Moore expects to see a sharper picture on the video screen, improved graphics and better synchronization between the audio and video.
The system will also be easier to operate, he said, allowing more people to learn how to use it.
Currently, parks department employee Jeremy Poeffel is the main man behind the scoreboard operations during Scotus Central Catholic and Columbus High football games and other events.
Moore has a few other projects in mind that could benefit from the advertising dollars in the future.
The artificial turf, which was installed in 2012 along with the new scoreboard and track, will need to be replaced over time and the press box is in “God-awful” shape.
“We want to build a new press box,” Moore said.
The public property director said there are also issues with water leaks between the new and old portions of the stadium that need to be addressed and the track will eventually wear down, although there are no current problems with the running surface.
“That would be another use for this money,” Moore said.
Of the 10 businesses with scoreboard advertising agreements, six of them — Pinnacle Bank, First National Bank, BD Medical, Columbus United Federal Credit Union, Columbus Community Hospital and Ernst Auto Center — have been on board since 2012. The other current advertisers are Great Plains State Bank, Bank of the Valley, Hy-Vee and Slumberland.
In addition to being a revenue source, Moore believes the video board enhances the game day atmosphere for fans and players who get to see their pregame intros on the big screen.
“They think they’re playing at one of the best facilities there is, and I think that adds to the experience,” he said.