Controversy is lighting up the Mesquite school board's recent approval of $1 million upgrades for its stadium scoreboards.
E.H. Hanby Stadium and Memorial Stadium will have revamped scoreboards in the fall, after school district trustees approved changes to the scoreboards and sound systems at their regular board meeting on Jan 14.
The district will spend $999,990 from its general revenue fund to upgrade the old scoreboards.
The 11-year-old boards are too old for repairs, so they have to be updated with digital technology. They will have bigger video screens on the front and back sides of the boards.
"Our stadiums have long considered to be destination playoff sites for visiting football teams, and that's a good thing -- anytime we can bring in an extra 10, 20,000 people," " said Steve Bragg, district athletic director.
The work involves retrofitting the current scoreboards with new technology. Repairs are slated to begin this summer.
"This is significantly cheaper than replacing scoreboards, so we've investigated and tried to do our homework as best we can and tried to do it in the most cost-effective way we can," Bragg said.
But Mesquite trustee and parent Phil Appenzeller said the timing isn't right, with school funding up in the air in Legislature and courts.
"We have to be careful on what we spend money on and make sure it has a tie to the classroom and, at this point, I didn't think the video screens and the scoreboards had a direct tie," he said.
Appenzeller said he wanted the project to wait until after school funding is settled.
"I thought it was something we could have waited a few more months to do," he said. "We weren't hearing that there was an immediate need to do it."
The district said it expects to earn more than $600,000 in advertising revenue with the upgraded scoreboards in the next 10 to 12 years that will recoup most of the costs for the improvements.
The same company that put up scoreboards at Southlake Carroll's Dragon Stadium and Plano's Kimbrough Stadium will work on Mesquite's scoreboards.