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PRINCETON — Once again the subject of allowing advertising in Princeton parks came up at a park district meeting, and once again, the idea was given a thumbs down.

At this week’s meeting, park district member Dick Volker presented information about a program by Sportable Scoreboards.

Volker said that while attending the Illinois Association of Park Districts meeting in Chicago in January, he visited an exhibit on scoreboards. He said he has had a “passion” for a new scoreboard at West Side Park, and the ones he was looking at were similar to Princeton High School’s scoreboard and started at $14,000.

“I said, ‘Gee, I’d love to have something like that for our park district, but we don’t have any money for that now,’” Volker said. “And he said, ‘We can give you that free.’”

Volker said the park district and the company would sign a contract, and then the company would go to merchants or people in the area who would advertise. That advertising would run on an electrical banner across the top of the digital display.

Volker said the company would get all of the money the first two years, and after that, the money would be split with the district.

“We talked about not wanting any advertising at the parks, but the times have changed,” Volker said. “I don’t see anything wrong with having a banner going across the top.”

Volker said the park board could choose which scoreboard it would prefer, and the district’s only responsibility would be to make sure the electrical connection was in place.

“We don’t do anything but use the scoreboard,” he said. “And I’d love to have a scoreboard out there.”

Board Chairman Gene Englehart agreed that times have changed and said it was something to look into, but Princeton Park District Executive Director Elaine Russell had several concerns, or what she called “food for thought.”

First Russell asked Volker who would see the sign, and he responded with people at the ballpark. She then asked how many months of the year the sign would be viewed.
Volker said about five months, but Russell said it was only four months.

“That is going to be one hard sell,” she said.

Then Russell asked how the merchants or area residents would be selected. Volker said the park board would give them a list of possible sponsors, and the company would contact them.

“We don’t want other people going to our advertisers and wanting them to do something,” she said.

Russell said most businesses have an advertising budget, and if they spend money on the scoreboard, they will withhold money from something else, such as sponsoring the district’s brochures.

Russell also told about two similar programs that didn’t work out well. She said the communities where this program has been successful have been much bigger than Princeton.

Russell said she was not against Volker’s idea, but the board members had to decide if they wanted advertising in parks.

“If you do this, you have just opened up advertising in all of our parks,” she said.

The board has discussed sponsorship advertising for several years, and Volker said he has always been against it, so he was retracting his support of the program.

But he also wasn’t giving up.

“I don’t want advertising in the parks,” he said. “But someday we’ll get one of these things.”

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