By MADDY VITALE and DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Ocean City High School’s Carey Stadium will soon be getting a new scoreboard. But it won’t be quite as elaborate as the one initially planned.
During a City Council meeting on Dec. 1, Mayor Jay Gillian explained that a $2 million high-tech scoreboard originally discussed for the stadium was too expensive and would have taken eight to 10 years to pay for itself through advertising and sponsorship.
Instead, the city plans to buy a new scoreboard for 2023 that is similar to the existing one and at a much lower price of around $100,000.
“For right now, we will go ahead and buy a scoreboard like the one we have, and we can always move it somewhere else,” Gillian said during the meeting.
He noted that there was a need for a new scoreboard because the one currently there is antiquated and it has become increasingly difficult to get parts to keep it operational.
In October, Gillian announced plans to put in a new scoreboard.
The plan was to replace the scoreboard with a high-tech, double-sided scoreboard that would include features allowing it to be used not just for sports, but also for concerts, movies and other special events.
At the time, City Business Administrator George Savastano explained to Council that the current scoreboard reached “the end of its useful life.”
“It’s failed at multiple events, including some of the sold-out fall football showcases where organizers were paying for the use of the field,” he said at the October meeting.
The $2 million scoreboard would have had alternative uses in addition to keeping score for Ocean City High School sports and youth programs in the city. It would have also supported non-sports events such as graduation or outdoor concerts, or new programming such as movie nights.
While there was positive feedback from the governing body for the high-tech scoreboard, Gillian noted at the Dec. 1 meeting that the administration felt it was “not prudent” at this time, but that it could be a possibility in the future.
The plan is to have a new scoreboard in place by next year that would complement the city’s project to install new bleachers at Carey Stadium for 2023.
Carey Stadium serves as the main venue for Ocean City High School’s sports program, including the football games. The city is looking to spruce it up to make it even more of an attraction for teams and fans. There are also plans to attract more special events.
Over the last two years, Carey Stadium has hosted some of the top high school football teams in the region in the “Battle of the Beach” showcase.
The stadium complex is also rented out by some college athletic programs for their workouts, including Villanova University’s football team.
Gillian has repeatedly expressed his hope that even more college teams will use Carey Stadium and the adjacent Sports & Civic Center to produce additional rental revenue for the city.