Advertising posted on the high school's home run fence has gone afoul of city, state and federal regulations.
In an attempt to preserve the lucrative advertising lining the fence of Woods Cross High School's baseball diamond, city officials are currently considering a possible change in their ordinance to allow the school to continue to use the off-site advertising. City ordinances currently prohibit the off-site advertising, which is any signage not on the business's property.Lining a home run fence with sponsor signs is not an uncommon practice. However, because the high school is next to I-15, the signs face the interstate traffic instead of the fans. That, in the city's opinion, qualifies as off-site advertising.
"If people pay to go to the field and look at the signs, that is fine," said Woods Cross City Manager Gary Uresk. "But if they face away from the field, that needs to be addressed."
Preferably, the city would like to allow the school to move the signs inside the park, which would allow the funding received from the advertisers to continue to go to the school.
That may not be good enough for state and federal regulations, however. Sign laws, which are applicable nationwide but must be enforced by states along all national highways, have a number of strict rules. Included is one rule stating that billboards must be 500 feet apart and cannot not be within 500 feet of schools, parks or cemeteries. Those rules apply to any sign that can be read from national highways; the Woods Cross fence signs can be distinctly read from I-15.
The Utah Department of Transportation, who must enforce the rules along federal highways or risk losing funds, understands the financial benefit the signs can bring to a school, said Francine Reich, project engineer for UDOT. But they can't do anything about it.
"These are the same regulations all outdoor advertisers have to follow," Reich said.
Woods Cross is not the only school that runs into such problems, Reich said. Most recently, Granger High officials had to remove signs on their fence that faced Bangerter Highway.
Because of the rule prohibiting signs near schools, "it's a big `whoops' when they put up signs," Reich said.
This is not the first time Woods Cross High has encountered problems with the advertising. About four years ago, the school proposed building a marquee announcing school events, and including sponsor logos on the marquee, said Principal Rick Call. That proposal was eventually de-nied.
Yet for schools working with tight budgets, the advertising revenue can provide a substantial boost to programs, Call said. In this case, the revenue helps fund the baseball and softball programs.
Call did not know the exact amount, but he did say it was "a significant amount of revenue."
"We're looking for every penny we can get, so we look for every source of revenue," Call said.