District 87 may add ads to scoreboards
A majority of respondents to an online survey favor adding advertising to scoreboards at Glenbard High School District 87 football fields and gymnasiums — but one school board member cautioned Monday that the district should tread lightly.
District officials have been talking about installing a total of eight LED boards at its schools — one for each football and basketball scoreboard — but before moving forward, they've sought feedback from the community via the survey and from the district's finance and facility committee.
At a committee meeting Monday, results of the survey were released that showed 62 percent to be in favor of "limited and family appropriate" advertising on scrolling LED boards during athletic events, out of a total 454 respondents. About 20 percent of respondents were opposed, and another 17 percent said they would "possibly" be in favor.
One of the committee's members, Tom Voltaggio, said the district should take into consideration the "attitudes and mindsets" of those who live adjacent to the school campuses because they would be in the line of sight of the advertising. He said such proposed physical changes to a campus have proved to "evoke responses" from the community, such as the controversy that erupted over the district's proposal to install lights at Memorial Field in Glen Ellyn.
"I think we heard that fairly clearly in the last year, and I don't want to see a repeat," said Voltaggio, a Glen Ellyn resident who voted against the lights.
Voltaggio, like many community members, argued that the lights would hinder the character of the neighborhood. Eventually, the project gained the support of a majority of school board members and Glen Ellyn trustees, who granted the project the necessary zoning variances. The light poles are being installed this summer.
Voltaggio also said he has concerns about the cost to add LED boards and about controlling revenue streams from the ads.
A website that streams live high school athletic events, iHigh, would facilitate advertising sponsorships for the LED scoreboards, as well as Glenbard's iHigh website. The district would pay about $187,000 upfront to install the LED boards, then it would receive all ad revenues until that cost is paid off, or until the start of the third year of a eight-year contract with iHigh, whichever comes first.
Afterward, the district would get 80 percent of revenues and iHigh would get 20 percent, under terms of a proposed revenue-sharing agreement.
Glenbard officials have estimated the district could collect $100,000 annually from advertising.
Voltaggio said he wants to make sure district administrators, the school board and community maintain "control over our system" in an age when high school sports is increasingly becoming "big money."
"I want to make sure we don't lose the perspective that these are still kids," he said.
The entire school board is expected to discuss the proposal before providing a recommendation to the administration about whether to proceed with the ads.
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