Children playing sports love to see the score up in lights, and a recent investment from McDonald’s of Clinton will ensure kids get that opportunity.
Hugh Caison, owner/operator of the McDonald’s on Sunset Avenue and Southeast Boulevard, as well as five other McDonald’s franchises in Sampson and Duplin counties, recently gave $4,000 toward the sponsorship of a brand new scoreboard that has been installed at Royal Lane Park.
He joined Recreation director Jonathan Allen out at the multipurpose field Wednesday to take a look at the new board, which lit up the field on an otherwise overcast day.
Caison grew up in Clinton, playing sports at Fisher Drive and at Clinton High School. He recalled how longtime recreation director Walker Bellamy helped shape recreation in Clinton, how it expanded out at Royal Lake Park and the way athletics bring people off all different backgrounds together.
“Sports in this town has always been the cohesive force for this community,” Caison remarked.
“From everything I’ve been told about the history of this community and the recreation department, that is right,” Allen agreed. “Sports brings people together.”
The new scoreboard, which cost $8,000, is being sponsored at half that cost by McDonald’s of Clinton. The $4,000 sponsorship will offset the city expense over the next three years.
“The other one was very old and not usable,” said Allen of the scoreboard. He is hoping more potential sponsors will step forward. “We’re trying to phase it in. The scoreboards are getting outdated. There is room for other sponsorships. That will help offset the cost of the scoreboards.”
Caison said the scoreboard is a great touch to the growing area, which is soon to be the site of renovations.
“Kids will want to come out here because of that scoreboard. They want to see that, they want to score on that,” said Caison, who noted the large 20-by-30 foot board will offer patrons an easy-to-follow game. “It makes the experience better. You can see it from the other end of the field.
“It looks dynamite,” Caison stated.
The scoreboard project is independent of the renovations and naming rights of fields, which will likely become a priority after the renovated and restructured fields take their place. The naming rights were eyed by the Clinton Rec Advisory Board and Clinton City Council, and subsequently approved by the Council in 2014, as a way to offset the cost of the proposed improvements.
“I’m hoping eventually we’ll get that kick-started,” the recreation director said, “but we didn’t want to do that until we have these fields in. We didn’t want to put the cart before the horse.”
Currently, Prestage Farms and Star Communications are the only other companies that serve as scoreboard sponsors at Royal Lane. Allen said he was thankful for the generosity of Caison and McDonald’s, as well as the other sponsors, and looked forward to the scoreboard filling up, on front and back, which is visible to people coming in on Royal Lane.
Allen was also optimistic of the prospect of getting scoreboard sponsors for the other four fields — there are seven total including the multipurpose.
“The people who were on the scoreboard is who you knew as a kid,” Caison noted. “Being on the scoreboard is big for me.”
The City of Clinton Public Works Department recently installed the scoreboard, putting poles 7 feet into the ground so it can withstand whipping winds and potentially hurricanes. It was also placed far enough away from the track that encircles the field to avoid having to be displaced due to the renovations that will begin at the multipurpose field in November.
The city received a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant that will pay half the cost of a $500,000 facelift at Royal Lane Park, to be matched with $250,000 of the city’s funds. The project is Phase 1A of the master plan for the park’s renovation and seeks to reorganize the park to create a better flow throughout.
It will include a new entrance monument, enhancing the multipurpose field for soccer and football, adding a 1/4-mile walking trail, resurfacing the track, consolidating and renovating playgrounds and adding a picnic shelter, new landscaping and parking. Caison said the scoreboard will is a great sign of things to come.
“I grew up here and I know how important the recreation facilities are to this community and I know how awesome the rec department is,” Caison said. “It’s great to be able to do this and give back to this community.
“It’s just another way to continue to make this community grow and prosper,” he attested.
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