For years now, fireworks have been a show-stopper at Magic home football games. They consistently draw oooos and ahhhs from the crowd following Magic touchdowns, not to mention some scares when they perpetually catch people by surprise during the national anthem.
If Monti continues the firework display this year, people may not even notice.
That’s because they’ll likely be busy watching the touchdown replay on the second biggest high school video board in the state.
Last Monday, Jan. 23, Monticello Athletic Director Gary Revenig presented to the Monticello School Board his fully-funded plan to bring six new scoreboards to Monticello High School’s facilities. The star of the bunch is the scoreboard that will go at the new stadium, which will include a video board measuring 24’4” feet wide and 13’6” feet tall. Only Eden Prairie has a bigger one. And it comes with a sound system meant to cut right through the wind, and provide crystal clear sound to all in attendance at football, soccer or lacrosse contests.
The package, in a phrase, is top-of-the-line.
Revenig told the school board that it was important to him that Monti had the best.
“If we’re going to do this, we wanted to do it right,” he said.
As big as the scoreboard is, it still wasn’t the biggest part of the whole equation, however.
That was community support.
Some time ago, the school board made clear to Revenig that if he wanted the top-of-the-line package, it would have to come from a different source of funding than the levy and bond that Monti last passed.
“The school board told me that to save money, and so we could have some of the other things out at the stadium that we wanted, that I would have the full responsibility of generating the funds to pay for the scoreboard and the sound system out there,” Revenig told the Monticello Times last week.
“I welcomed that challenge, because I want the best for our school district and our community.”
Revenig, in his seventh year at the helm and the driving force behind getting the new stadium built, was the right man for the job.
The former teacher and coach turned AD and premiere salesman of Monticello High School and its students was able to lock up the funds he needed and then some. Needing a total of $541,000 to cover the cost of the scoreboards, video display, replay, and cameras, Revenig went out into the Monticello business community and signed contracts for $665,000 over the next eight years, with the ability to increase that amount down the road.
Jim Johnson, Superintendent of Monticello schools, said bringing in that kind of funding would be a tall task for most, but that it was right in Revenig’s wheelhouse.
“I don’t know if it would’ve been realistic for a lot of people,” he said. “But knowing Gary, and how driven he is and how passionate he is about this, if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him.”
So how did he do it?
By creating partnerships with the local business community. Revenig created eight Anchor Partnerships and six Founding Partnerships. Anchor Partners signed contracts either for $50,000 over the course of five years, or $72,000 over the course of eight years (an annual discount of 10 percent).
Founding Partners signed contracts for half that amount.
The partners are rewarded with scoreboard signs, digital ads at Magic events, game sponsorships, website ads and passes to Magic events.
With the concept in place, Revenig was able to find businesses to fill each spot. Revenig noted very few businesses said no to the pitch, and that most jumped at the opportunity to partner with the school.
The eight Anchor Partner spots were taken by: Cornerstone Chevrolet (two spots), All Elements Roofing, NovaCare, Foster White Insurance, Dahlheimer Beverage, CentraCare Health and Central MN Orthodontics.
The six Founding Partners are: Papa Johns, GNC, Dan Olson – State Farm Insurance, Schlenner, Wenner & Co., Culvers, and Sherburne State Bank.
Revenig said that when he was working with Daktronics, the makers of the scoreboard, they couldn’t believe the success he was having with fundraising.
“The support we get here in Monticello is second to none,” he said. “It’s unreal.”
Johnson, who joined Revenig at all but two of the contract signings, told the school board that businesses were excited about the partnership, and they didn’t act like they were just writing another check.
“That’s what was most meaningful to me,” he said. “All of them that I was at, it was about supporting our kids. That’s really what they felt like they were doing.”
Revenig said the entire process has been exhausting, but well worth it.
“This is probably the most consuming thing I’ve ever done as activities director,” he said. “But it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
In total there are six new scoreboards going in at five different locations. In addition to the new stadium scoreboard, the new track and field facility will also be getting a scoreboard that displays times for all eight lanes. It also has a regular scoreboard on top, for when junior varsity games and other contests are held inside of the track. Both baseball and softball will be getting scoreboard replacements as well, which will look similar to the ones that have been in use at each field. The main difference is they will hopefully work perfectly. Softball has had major problems with their scoreboard in recent years, and baseball has had a number of lights out for years that no one has been able to fix.
The final scoreboard upgrade will be at the Moose Sherritt Ice Arena, where two scoreboards will be going in, one for each end of the ice.
Each of the six scoreboards will display all eight Anchor Partners. The scoreboard at the new stadium will also display the six Founding Partners.
The track and field scoreboard will have a standard speaker attached to it, while the football scoreboard will have a speaker of the highest quality.
“It’s always windy where our new stadium is going. I was worried that our standard system might not be loud enough or clear enough,” said Revenig, who was assured by the athletic director at Blaine that this speaker is “unbelievable.”
The first scoreboards to be installed will be at the Moose, where they are scheduled to go in this month. Baseball and softball should both be in place in time for the spring season, and the scoreboards will likely go in at the new facilities shortly after that.
A well-rounded package
The stadium scoreboard will be beneficial for more than just athletes and fans.
Revenig and Luke Feierabend a teacher and Tech Integration Specialist at Monticello Schools, are working together on a plan to help students bring the scoreboard to life, while teaching them skills in writing, filming, editing, directing and more.
“This is a great opportunity for our students,” said Revenig. “We wanted to provide opportunities to put videos up on the board, to show highlights during the game, to show replays. To really engage students and have them learn real life skills so they can go on and do this at a college and maybe even a professional level. This is a place for them to start.”
Feierabend said he already works with a small group of students on producing videos and broadcasts that go out to the school weekly at MHS. Revenig approached him about turning it into an AV Club next year, where students will have the opportunity to letter for their work in the club, both involving the scoreboard and numerous other projects around the school district. Feierabend said when he approached the students to measure their interest, the response was overwhelmingly positive.
“Their faces just lit up,” he said. “The excitement is through the roof.”
Students will likely start training on the equipment this summer, with hopes of being ready to run operations by this fall. There will be one to three cameras going during games at the new stadium and students will have opportunities to work on video production, sports marketing (students will create videos and ads to promote other events at MHS on the scoreboard), advanced photography, advertising (creating digital ads for the Anchor and Founding Partners), production graphics and computer animation.
School Board member Jill Bartlett spoke after the presentation about how providing students with those opportunities was something that really made the project standout to her.
“I love that we’re bringing new opportunities to kids to make sure that we’re hitting areas where every kid has an opportunity to be involved and invested in something they love,” she said.
Feierabend told the Times that this will provide an opportunity for a new group of kids to shine at MHS.
“This takes a special skill set,” he said. “These guys have already been volunteering for years in this realm and now there’s an audience. They get a chance to really flex that muscle and that interest.”
Board praises Revenig
School board members, and the superintendent, were effusive in their praise of Revenig at the Jan. 23 meeting.
Bartlett mentioned that she was “really impressed” and called it “an amazing job.”
Jeff Hegle talked about the kind of change Revenig has brought to MHS and how he has made so many things possible for both the school and the community. Hegle said in the past one could look to an Eden Prairie or a school such as that, and say ‘wow, look what they have’, but now, there is hardly any need to look anywhere else.
“We’re just as good as all these other metro schools now, because of the things that you’re doing,” he said.
And Johnson said that going into those contract signings, it was evident that Revenig has built tremendous relationships with the local business community.
“The respect that they have for Gary is incredible,” he said. “That’s going to benefit our district for a long time to come.”
For Revenig, it’s all a labor of love.
“I appreciate that the school board trusted me that I’d be able to do this. It was very rewarding to know that we’re going to have something that’s going to be hopefully very impressive,” he said.
“This was my goal when I became AD. I told the coaches that my No. 1 priority was to be an advocate for a new stadium. I’m just excited that we finally accomplished that. It took longer than I wanted it to take but I’m proud of what we’re putting together here and I hope the community will be impressed when it’s finally done.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]