Screen to put MAP on the map

Langley Minor Football is seeking the Township's help to acquire Empire Field's big screen for McLeod Athletic Park

Langley Minor Football wants to put McLeod Athletic Park on the map in a very large way.

The association is proposing the Township, along with other corporate sponsors, purchase the big screen from Empire Field in Vancouver and install it at McLeod Park.

Langley Minor Football president Wayne McMurchy presented the proposal to council Monday afternoon, and says that having this screen will attract large events to the park, help generate revenue for the Township and benefit players of local minor leagues by displaying playbacks from practices and games.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he told council.

With Empire Field currently being dismantled, the owner of the screen, Retop Displays, is offering to lease the screen over five years at $20,000 per year, with a $20,000 down payment. At $120,000, the total is less than half the screen’s $265,000 value.

An ownership group is being established between Langley Minor Football, North Langley Minor Football, Langley Youth Soccer Association, the Langley Rams and Big Kahuna Sports to fundraise for the project. The group plans to use third party advertising on the screen when the venue is rented to cover the rest of the costs and to generate revenue.

The group is inviting the Township to become part of the ownership group, which will allow it to share in the revenue and advertise on the screen for free.

McMurchy also stated that the group is not looking for any additional financial contributions from the Township, only a policy for third party advertising to be created, and permission to form the partnership group.

If council approves it, this will be the first project of its kind in Canada. All other large screens of this nature are attached to professional organizations.

“Now if that doesn’t put McLeod Athletic Park on the map, I don’t know what will,” McMurchy said.

The 15.9-foot high by 28.4-foot wide screen is the second-largest screen in B.C. and would fit on top of the 28-foot long scoreboard on the south side of the stadium, facing the park.

The screen is two years old and has been used for 150 hours of its 100,000-hour lifespan, during BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps games.

The only other project of this nature the group could find is at a high school in Tacoma, where the school owns a slightly smaller screen and generates net revenues of $100,000 per year with a viewership of 300,000 to 600,000 people.

“I wouldn’t proclaim for one second that we have 300,000 or 600,000 viewership at the stadium per year, but we could get there. You have to take your first step and believe that it can be done first,” McMurchy told council.

“McLeod Athletic Park is number one in B.C., other than the one in Vancouver. No one else has anything like this. I am a huge believer in the potential of McLeod Athletic Park and the stadium.

“Can we get to 300,000 tomorrow? No. A couple years from now? I honestly believe we can. I think with something like this . . . you are starting to get into the realm of professional productions.”

Councillor Kim Richter expressed concern that the flashy advertising would distract passing motorists or be a hindrance to the airport located across 56 Avenue.

McMurchy assured council that the only street the sign is visible from is 58 Avenue, and its construction meets airport height restrictions.

Richter also questioned how often the sign will be used.

“How intrusive is this going to be? Does that mean that there is going to be non-stop advertising from seven in the morning until 11 o’clock at night?” she asked.

McMurchy said the screen will be well used on weekends, but added it will likely only be used between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. during the week when the field is rented out.

“There’s no point in having it on for 20 or 30 walkers walking around the track. It’s when the field is actually rented when you will get your viewership,” he said.

Councillor Grant Ward said he is very supportive of the project.

“To say the least, I am extremely excited about this,” he said.

“I think that the time is now. I think it is important, as you recognized, that McLeod athletic park is one of the major parks in the province and we have to keep it that way. I think over the last three years we have started to realize that Langley is now on the map big time.”

There is one other investor interested in purchasing the screen, but McMurchy is confident if he gains Township support his group will be able to lock up the deal.

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