News that an electronic scoreboard for Ballymena Showgrounds could cost up to £20,000 has prompted a mixed reaction from councillors.
Giving an update on the potential purchase of such equipment to members of the Community Planning & Wellbeing Committee last Monday night, Assistant Director of Development, Leisure and Cultural Services, Bernie Candlish said that there is currently no facility to display scores or teams at matches within the main arena.
She said that a temporary scoreboard, which had previously been flagged up by some councillors, would be of “limited use” and, therefore, may not offer best value for money.
Councillors were told: “Given the high profile events which the Showgrounds continues to attract, a higher specification of electronic scoreboard should be investigated.”
Mrs McCandlish also reported that a wide range of scoreboards were available, from basic manual options to fully electronic models providing the ability to change team names, facilitate advertising etc.
Pointing out that the costs range from £8,000-£20,000, she said a scoreboard would be “a welcomed improvement for resident clubs tournaments and event promoters” with the potential to attract higher profile games and events.
First to respond, Cllr Monica Digney said an electronic scoreboard would be “a great asset to the Showgrounds - the piece de resistance!”.
“We have this facility, we have all these people coming and we have no scoreboard. It makes us look ridiculous,” she said.
Others who spoke out strongly in favour of a scoreboard were Cllrs. Beth Clyde, James McClean, and Sam Hanna, the latter declaring it to be “an absolutely essential thing” at the Showgrounds.
Alderman PJ McAvoy, however, stated: “I don’t agree for one week a year, if you are looking at The Milk Cup, to pay up to £20,000 for something. What usage are you going to get out of it? That’s the question you have to ask yourself.”
Self confessed football fan, Cllr John Carson said: “It’s a poor supporter that doesn’t know the score in the match. There are things we are more in need of.”
Cllr Desmond Robinson raised the point that such equipment could be put use at other arena events such as showjumping at the Agricultural Show.
Councillors went to agree the officer’s recommendation that further investigations be made into available scoreboards and the options brought back to Council.