“Work is wrapping up on four new softball field scoreboards – the latest improvements to Apopka’s popular Northwest Recreation Complex on Jason Dwelley Parkway”
Those are the words of Apopka Public Information Officer Robert Sargent in a news release the City of Apopka published earlier in the week entitled “Apopka Continues to Improve Northwest Recreation Complex“. Later in the 439-word statement, Sargent additionally writes this about the scoreboards:
“The four new scoreboards from Major Display feature 5-by-10-foot scoreboards and panels for advertising. The scoreboards are operated by wireless controllers. The scoreboards are located on softball fields A, B, C and D near the Northwest Recreation Complex administrative offices.”
At a March 1st, 2017 meeting, the Apopka City Council voted 3-2 to purchase those four scoreboards. Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, Commissioners Kyle Becker, and Diane Velazquez voted in favor of the purchase, while Commissioners Doug Bankson and Billie Dean voted against it. However, if Becker could vote today, it might be a different case.
“I’m glad to see the scoreboards were finally installed over the weekend, he said. “These will serve to enhance the game experience for the many leagues and tournament games hosted at our fields.”
“What’s the timeline you are looking at? Becker asked. “Assuming these get approved… what’s the time it takes to install them and have them up and running?”
Bankson expressed skepticism in 2017, and that has not wavered since the installation. At the 2017 meeting he said this:
“My concern with the scoreboard is that it was not budgeted, and we are dealing with a lot of expenditures. Although I see the benefit, I’m against the idea at this time. I don’t see the necessity.”
But in 2018, Bankson’s skepticism has transitioned to outright displeasure.
“Though I was not in agreement with the structure of the arrangement which is why I voted against the scoreboard deal, I am even more unhappy with the quality of the installation and the fact that there are no sponsorships and no LED screens as was intimated at their proposal last year,” he said. “The posts are uneven on all four signs meaning they do not have the same amount of underground depth and could possibly lead to unevenness over time. We should not pay another dime until this is rectified and actually should have some concessions for the amount of wait time which caused us not to be able to highlight them and celebrate the signage at the little league season grand opening last week. Furthermore, the amount of square footage for advertising space is small and hampers sales. I don’t see why we couldn’t have used limited area at the top of our fences for quality sponsorships. We would have made much more revenue and could have kept all of the proceeds and benefitted the league.”
In 2017, Kilsheimer saw this deal as a chance to get something sooner than expected, and with no strain on city employees.
“This is an amenity for our recreation complex that we can get sooner rather than later and that we can get with minimal impact on the staff,” he said at the March/2017 meeting. We don’t have to go out and manage this process. We’re short-staffed anyway. I’m in favor with moving forward on this because we can get an amenity on this that makes the fields more attractive for the public, more attractive for tournaments and as an experience for the people using the fields. I think it’s the right thing to do. And as far as the money is concerned, we’re going to spend a little money to make a lot of money over the next seven years.”
But unlike Bankson and Becker, he is still pleased with the scoreboards and is happy with the terms of the contract.
“I think the scoreboards make an attractive addition to the fields,” said Kilsheimer. “I asked the recreation director to review the contract. She informed me that the scoreboards meet the terms of the contract.”
Apopka Recreation Director Mariah McCullough, in an email to The Apopka Voice through Sargent, released this statement:
“We are excited to receive the scoreboards and look forward to seeing them operating within a week. They are a nice addition that adds character and convenience to four of the fields at the Northwest Recreation Complex.”
Velazquez also wanted to move forward in 2017 because she was concerned Apopka was falling behind other communities.
“I like these scoreboards because there are other cities and counties building parks to rival ours, and I know from different organizations that they’re starting to look at other counties and cities to take their teams there because in some cases they are getting better deals and better fields,” she said. “We’re really trying to keep up with that competition, but if this is going to happen, this is the height of the season. I realize the investment, and I think it’s something the City of Apopka should be doing. What I’ve seen is our tendency in the past to wait to do things, and then we get behind the eight-ball and we have to try to catch up.”