Originally created 09/27/00

Arena authority seeks larger scoreboard



Call it scoreboard envy.

The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority has determined the civic center scoreboard used for Augusta Stallions arena2football games is too small, and it wants a bigger one.

Daktronics, the Brookings, S.D.-based scoreboard and message center manufacturer, has offered to take back the video scoreboard and give the civic center a $100,000 credit toward the purchase of more satisfactory equipment.

The company even has offered to fly an authority member to the New Jersey Meadowlands Arena to see a more suitable scoreboard - albeit one that would cost $400,000.

Authority members find the offer unacceptable, especially because the original scoreboard cost $200,000 when it was purchased earlier this year.

Many board members said a trip to New Jersey is pointless because they would never pay $400,000 for a video scoreboard.

Reggie Williams, general manager of the civic center, said he believes that the initial proposal made by Daktronics was just a way to get the negotiating ball rolling. He said he was confident a deal could be worked out.

Authority board Chairman Bill Maddox said he believes that Sam Nicholson, the board's attorney, should either negotiate a more favorable deal or get all $200,000 back, even if it means taking the company to court.

Mr. Williams said he would like to avoid legal battles. He said Bob Smith, Daktronics' Southeast region manager, told him last week that he wants to do whatever is necessary to make the authority a happy customer.

The authority voted unanimously to have Mr. Williams and Mr. Nicholson work with Daktronics to negotiate the best deal possible or to get their money back.

Several board members expressed skepticism, even a bit of cynicism, at the suggestion of working out a deal with Daktronics, because the company assured the board the first sign was going to be suitable for the civic center.

Board members said that relying on the company's expertise had been a mistake.

"I could have looked at that scoreboard on the side of a truck and known it was too small," board member Austin Rhodes said.

One reason the authority got itself into the problem was that the start of the arena2football season came quickly and the authority had to rush to find, purchase and install a scoreboard before the Stallions' first home game, board members said.

But when the season began, fans, players and authority members all realized their gaffe: The video screen was too small.

"As soon as it was in place up there, we became the laughingstock of Augusta," board member Quincy Murphy said.

Some board members, including Bonnie Ruben and William Holden, said they would rather the authority return the scoreboard, get the money back and put the project out to bid again.

Reach Justin Martin at (706) 823-3552.