Bossier City is taking bids to upgrade the electronic message board outside CenturyLink Center on the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway.

“What they have out there now is what they call a red dot,” Bossier City Engineer Mark Hudson said. “I asked what’s wrong with the red dot, and they made fun of me. They don’t make it anymore. They don’t make parts for it anymore. It’s 20 years old. They get it fixed about three times a year and it stays fixed for a couple of months and then it breaks again. They have to buy parts from third-party vendors. It’s time to put that puppy in the trash.”

The new display will be a 10-foot by 30-foot LED digital display, which is the current industry standard.

“If you go to Best Buy to buy a TV, you’re coming home with a high-definition flat screen,” Hudson said. “That’s all they sell. That’s the way signs are now.”

Hudson said the structure of the sign is sound, but that when the work begins, repairs will be done to fix leaks in the top of the structure. Also, the CenturLink logos on the sign will be replaced or refurbished, Hudson said.

Bids were scheduled to be opened and the project awarded at the March 6 city council meeting.

“There was language in our specifications that, quite frankly I should have caught, that made such that most bidders couldn’t bid,” Hudson said. “We went back and scrubbed the specifications, made them more real world.”

Hudson said he is rewriting the bid proposal and expects three to six good bids when the project is relet. He had no specific timeline, but said he expects that to happen as soon as possible.

Funds for these and future repairs to CenturyLink Center will come from a $3 restoration fee that the city council voted to add to every event ticket sold for the venue.

“The city council recently voted to add on each ticket a $3 surcharge to raise some money to provide the upgrades and upkeep at the arena,” Hudson said. “That money was bonded and it raised a certain amount of money — $6 million to $7 million — and the arena, at my request, gave me a list of top priority things that needed to be done there.”

The lighting inside the arena was another priority on that list. On March 6, the city council approved appropriating $5,000 from the Hotel/Motel Tax Fund to cover additional costs for new lighting controls and security upgrades at the arena. The council previously approved $460,000 for that project.

“I’m learning about the arena business a little bit as I go along,” Hudson said. “The lighting controls were old, antiquated, didn’t work, they didn’t make parts for it anymore. So that was a top priority to them because all of the traveling shows like a certain look — they want it to be bright, to be black and all lighting in between. It included some additional security upgrades, so it made sense to let those electricians do the work while there.”

By Scott Anderson