City eyes new scoreboards for Bickle-Schmidt ball fields

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
City of Hays is looking at new hard-wired scoreboards for the eight ball fields at Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex, for installation in early June and which would include room for sponsorships.
Existing scoreboards, seen here, at the eight ball fields at Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex are wireless and unreliable, says city of Hays parks director Jeff Boyle, who is proposing the installation in early June of new hard-wired scoreboards that include a panel for sponsorships.

For the second time in as many months, the city of Hays plans another upgrade to the popular ball fields at the city-owned Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex.

This time, it’s new scoreboards with larger digital numbers, space for sponsors and installment in early June.

If approved by the city commission at their regular meeting next Thursday, the new hard-wired aluminum scoreboards would replace existing 10-year-old scoreboards, which Jeff Boyle, parks department director, characterized as unreliable.

“They have been problematic. One of the issues is that they’re wireless,” said Boyle, speaking Thursday evening at the regular work session of the Hays City Commission in City Hall, 1507 Main.

“The other issue is that the batteries don’t hold up; we’re repeatedly buying new batteries and new controllers,” he said. “And then the internals on the scoreboards themselves have been very weak, and we’re constantly working on the scoreboard.”

Displaying an image in his presentation to the commission of the existing scoreboards at the complex on the western edge of town, Boyle said: “They don’t look too bad, but what you don’t see is what’s on the inside.”

Even contractors hired to fix them get frustrated, he said. One contractor said they should never have been installed.

“They were too cheap to be withstanding the pain that goes on out there sometimes with our winds, and those sort of things,” Boyle said. “I took that to heart and made sure when we did send out a bid it was good, solid, well-built equipment and not something that was going to fail us again.”

Of two companies submitting bids, the low was $79,905 for eight scoreboards from South Dakota-based Daktronics, a company familiar to Hays Recreation Commission, which manages the ballpark.

“Daktronics is a great company,” Boyle said. “Hays Rec’s got Daktronics portable scoreboards that have had zero problems. They’ve had them 10, 12, 15 years now and they’ve had zero issues.”

The city would pay for the scoreboards with Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex sales tax reserve, then pay that back in 2022 with special park and recreation funding.

Installation of the new aluminum scoreboards could take place the first two weeks in June, he said.

Sponsorships

The competition ball fields at the 110-acre complex off the U.S. Highway 183 bypass host local and regional tournaments, as well as games for Hays Rec’s outdoor rec sports leagues.

At 8-foot by 14-foot, the proposed aluminum rust-proof scoreboards are about the same size as the ones now, and can be installed on the existing framework.

A sponsor panel along the top is 2-foot by 14 foot, slightly larger than now. The digital numbers for the scores are larger also.

“We would like to pursue looking into possible sponsorships to put on this panel,” Boyle said.

“Please,” said city commissioner Shaun Musil.

“We might try to do some package deals, so I’d like to come back to you, if you don’t mind, with that,” he said. “I can have them hold the sponsor panel until we have exactly what we want to put on those.”

“Have you had anybody approach you that’s interested in sponsorships?” asked Mayor Sandy Jacobs.

“I have not,” Boyle said. “Not at this point.”

“I really like the idea of the sponsorships, just because so many people coming from out of town to our tournaments,” Musil said. “Just this last year, with everything going on, we had 80 teams and most were from Oklahoma and Colorado and they don’t really know Hays. And I don’t know if businesses will do it, but if they’re interested, it’s a great way to get people into our town.” 

Same but better

Trim color around the edges and for the sponsor panel will match the colors at the ball fields now, Boyle said.

Identification of the individual fields won’t necessarily be on the scoreboard as they are now, but possibly on new shade structures being built over the bleachers, or on the backstops, Boyle said.

The new scoreboards will be direct wired.

“That has been one of the issues we face, is the wireless connection,” Boyle said. “There’s already conduit in place. When the facility was put in, there was no wires ran. So we’re asking that the wires be put into this as part of the project.”

It will come with new controllers.

“Hays Rec agreed, they like the set-up a lot better,” Boyle said.

Shade too

The city commission March 4 approved a $450,000 project to shade the eight ball field bleachers at the park. That, said Boyle, would relieve the No. 1 complaint he gets about the ballpark.

Right now the city has 700 square feet of shade at either end of the bleachers on each field. Adding more shade behind the backstops will more than triple that to 2,130 square feet, he told the commission in March.

The plan calls for replacing the existing polyethylene tarp and metal shade structures in place now with a wooden-pole and metal-roof structure on each of the eight fields. The new structures are zero-maintenance and able to withstand 125-mile winds.

Kansas-based Quality Structures Inc. starts work April 1 and will wrap it up the first week of May.

Funding for the shade structures is from some of the proceeds of a countywide quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in April 2020.