It seems as if Carthage won’t settle for being known merely as the setting of Richard Linklater’s recent film, Bernie. Not to be outdone by Allen high school’s $59.6 million, 18,000-seat high school football stadium, the town’s Bulldog Stadium is adding its own attraction, one that will aid devotees of the cult of Texas high school football in their worship: the largest high school stadium video screen in the state.
The video screen, which is a part of a behemoth $750,000 Jumbotron scoreboard measuring 26 feet high and 44 feet wide, will measure 1,200 square feet when it makes it first appearance at the season’s opening on August 31.
“It is the best one we have installed,” David Paslay, director of engineering of Illinois-based Nevco, said of the scoreboard in the Longview News-Journal. “It is the Cadillac for sure.” Paslay also emphasized that though the video screen itself is the largest in Texas, the overall scoreboard it’s a part of is not; that distinction belongs to Allen ISD’s monster stadium.
And with 800,000 LEDs, Paslay said, the high school’s screen is on par with that of any national stadium.
Some Carthage residents have expressed gushing excitement for the Bulldogs’s enormous new gadget.
“They’ve earned it; that’s for sure,” said Gabriel Jimenez, manager of a local sporting goods store, said in the News-Journal, while a Carthage high school student labeled the board “awesome.”
However, others seem less enthused about the cost of the scoreboard, which many label as wasteful and unnecessary, especially in the face of educational budget cuts that are crippling schools statewide.
“It is just a lot of extra money that does not need to be spent,” a Carthage-area resident told the News-Journal. “It ain’t about the kids; it’s about pleasing the adults.”
In a post titled “Friday Night Waste,” conservative blog EmpowerTexans wondered , “Who knows what kind of enticements $750,000 could have brought their Math, English, Science, and History departments. Perhaps it would have improved the district’s 39% instructional spending rate.”
Despite these sentiments, Carthage ISD voters recently approved expenditure by a 68.6 margin, the News-Journal said.
Carthage ISD superintendent Glen Hambrick said that some of the cost will be offset by about $35,000 in yearly ad sales.
“So it will be fully paid off in only 22 years!” John Nova Lomax of the Houston Press quipped. “And finally, the Ford and Chevy truck dealers of Greater Carthage / Panola County will have a venue worthy of their talents!”
The Lufkin Daily News ’s editorial board had their own cost-offset recommendation for Carthage ISD: “[S]howing movies on the big screen for profit, as well. ‘Bernie,’ perhaps.”