By the time the upcoming football season kicks off, all three local high school stadiums will have new aesthetic appeal under the Friday night lights.
While Cleveland High has already unveiled its state-of-the-art artificial turf, both Bradley Central and Walker Valley will be adding a new kick to their scoreboards.
Thanks to a simple idea, the Bradley County Board of Education approved the purchase and installation of the first operational jumbotrons at high school facilties across the greater Chattanooga area.
“Dr. (Linda) Cash and I were talking about jumbotrons last football season,” said Johnny Mull, who is in his 18th year as the energy management supervisor for Bradley County Schools.
“Her son plays at Bradley and she said, ‘I wish we had one here.’ Soon after, we started talking to different people and soon saw it as a good possibility for us.”
The dream will soon come to fruition as both county schools plan to have their 10.94-foot by 18.88-foot NEVCO full color LED video displays ready for their respective season home openers.
Also as part of the new additions, to be built on to the existing scoreboard, are additional non-illuminated sponsorship signage areas.
Both will also be topped with a 4-foot tall arch sign that will cover the 43-foot width of both the existing scoreboards and the new video display screen.
Installment plans are to start at BCHS on Aug. 7 and be complete by Aug. 13, in time for the Bear season opener against reigning Class 5-A state champion Farragut Aug. 18.
If all goes as planned, installment at WVHS will begin Aug. 14 and hopefully conclude by Aug. 20. The Mustangs’ first home contest will be a county rivalry with none other than the Bears on Aug. 25.
In professional sports and at major collegiate stadiums/arenas, jumbotrons have been a major hit over the years, as they seem to captivate fans. The first video board appeared at the 1980 MLB All-Star game in Los Angeles.
“Friday night football in Cleveland and Bradley County is the thing, and it always has been,” said Mull, whose video board idea was approved 5-0 by the board in its July meeting.
“Jumbotrons were a thing we thought would give us a wow factor that we could have to attract more fans to come out at both schools.”
With the possibility of in-game video highlights, graphics, fan-engaging promotions and video advertisements, plus player introductions, both schools’ media departments will benefit from new experience working the jumbotrons.
While the cost of the scoreboards is estimated to total $316,000, Mull believes the big screens will pay off over time. They each come with a five-year warranty.
“In high school your biggest revenue sport is football, then basketball and wrestling are second and third here in Bradley County,” Mull said. “Schools who have these jumbotrons in other parts of the state are making anywhere from $35,000 to 75,000 a year. We think it is a great way we can put money back into our athletic programs.”
Advertisements can also be shown on the board, and companies can sponsor first downs, touchdowns, etc.
Sponsorships are being lined up currently for the jumbotron, while the booster clubs will have separate meetings with Mull and NEVCO on how to maximize their profits.
“There is one sponsor for both high schools that can’t be named right now, but they have been really good to us and will make a sizeable donation to have their ad on the jumbotrons,” the former BCHS player, assistant coach and teacher said. “We are trying to build it and know exactly what all we can do with it.
“People are getting excited about it. I think it’s partially due to the unknown, too,” Mull added. “There is a little buzz in the air, and it’s a little pressure off the booster clubs as well.”
If all goes well with the boards, improvements can easily be made to them as the years go on. The jumbotrons are adaptable to newer technology and could become even brighter and sharper.
While turf football fields could be the next to come for both BCHS and WVHS, which Mull says is a possibility in the years to come, the new perks for Bradley County’s stadiums won’t decide the final scores.
“All of these cool additions are nice, but it doesn’t necessarily help you win football games,” Mull said. “You still have to do the same old stuff you had to do to win football games. However, it is going to be a better atmosphere for the fans, players and even coaches.