Think you have a big TV at home? Wait until you see what Ronald Lucchino has planned for the corner of Delaware Avenue and Chippewa Street.
The Buffalo businessman has teamed up with Burlington, Ont.-based RoadSide TV Network to erect a rotating video screen electronic billboard, measuring 12 feet wide and 9 feet high. Once it is attached to a pole, the top of the display screen will be 26 feet off the ground.
"This will have the clarity of a 12-inch LED screen, but it will be 12 feet wide," Lucchino said. He plans to have the sign up by mid-November.
Lucchino owns the corner plaza, which features a Starbucks Coffee shop. The electronic billboard will replace the sign that promotes Starbucks and the now-defunct Osake restaurant, and a Starbucks logo will be affixed to the new pole.
Passers-by will see displays including brief advertisements, weather data and community announcements, said Nigel Osborne, general manager of RoadSide TV Network, an outdoor advertising company. He said the picture quality will be comparable to the screens in HSBC Arena's center ice scoreboard.
A motor will rotate the screen between Chippewa and Delaware, and while the technology has audio capability, "it is not rigged up now," Lucchino said.
Lucchino got interested in the idea from seeing boards used in other cities, and said he hopes the sign will draw more attention to what he described as the "door" to the city's entertainment district.
"I just want to promote the area. That's the main thing," he said. Lucchino also owns Elmwood Taco and Subs and developed a Starbucks location at Elmwood and Delavan avenues.
Programming for the video board will be handled via satellite from Burlington, Ont. RoadSide TV Network has similar billboards in use in places such as Niagara Falls, Ont., Toronto and Hamilton.
In other cities, local advertisers have been the majority of paying advertisers, something Osborne said he expects to hold true in Buffalo. But the company also donates ad space to community groups promoting their events, as well as displaying notices marking holidays and even notices like a change in trash collection day.
For advertisers, he said, the boards' appeal is "recency," Osborne said. Motorists might see a product or service promoted and act on the message more quickly than when they see it on TV at home.
Lucchino said he hopes the electronic board will draw ads from theaters and other entertainment district businesses.
The Buffalo project received a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals, said Kevin Galvin, the board's executive secretary. Neighboring property owners were notified of the proposed project, and none raised objections, he said.
Lucchino described the project as a joint venture with RoadSide TV Network, and estimated its cost at $300,000. The technology will be a step above outdoor video billboards already in use in the Buffalo area, he said.
Bethesda World Harvest International Church at Main and Utica streets has two video billboards on its facade that were installed as part of an extensive renovation of the complex.
On Monday, the screens showed announcements and still images of the presidential candidates, urging people to vote. The church's pastor said in an interview last year that the screens are capable of showing videotape.
Studio Arena Theatre recently added a six-color changing message board that wraps around the corner of Tupper and Pearl streets.
Osborne, of RoadSide TV Network, said he sees the video board at Delaware and Chippewa as a good fit with other efforts to revitalize downtown and draw more activity there.
In some other cities, the video boards are not right in the heart of downtown, he said. "In Buffalo, we're right in the core, because we think that's the place to be."