The Northern Freeze gyms in Newfolden and Karlstad are currently devoid of sports action, but when they do return, fans could potentially not be able to attend in person. Both Tri-County and Marshall County Central (MCC) schools are discussing a way to give Freeze fans a possible option to watch their teams from outside the confines of their gyms. How?
The schools are looking at possibly installing a camera system in each of their gyms that would show and follow the game action and link to an online broadcast system, NFHS Network, a joint venture between PlayOn! Sports and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
The Tri-County School Board didn’t take any official action related to this service at its August 19 regular meeting. But, the district is looking at possible ways to help cut down on the cost of it, whether it be the installation or subscription fee.
If they went through with it, the Tri-County and Marshall County Central schools would have to commit a one-time fee of $1,250 ($2,500 total) for the installation services of each of these Pixellot camera systems. The NFHS Network is offering schools the equipment, software, and services for these two camera systems at no charge.
To provide these units at no cost to the schools, NFHS Network is asking schools to commit to a contract of five school years. It has provided schools with an out-clause to this contract. Schools don’t have any financial obligation beyond the initial installation cost.
The schools could also each take on an additional cost of $1,500 to allow fans to watch these games for free. If the schools covered this subscription fee for the first year, in addition to the one-time, $1,250 installation fee, it would cost each of them $2,750 total. If the schools didn’t cover this cost, fans would have to pay their own subscription fees.
“This year, if we can’t let fans in, each school would pay 1,500 dollars and our fans could watch for free,” Tri-County Superintendent Ryan Baron said, “because we aren’t allowed to let them in, potentially. It’s all hypothetical.”
The board did discuss potentially covering the subscription cost to allow Freeze fans to watch these events for free this year due to the current COVID situation. Then, after the first year, the school could continue to offer this game-watching service for the remainder of its five-year contract, but at a fee not covered by the school and instead by individual subscribers. The monthly cost to a subscriber would be $10.99 and the annual cost $69.99.
“I don’t like paying that money ($1,500) either, but if… we can’t let families in the building, that’s the least we could do I think in this situation,” Baron said. “Following years, it’s a convenience thing. If we get to go back to that and if families want it, they can sign up on their own. We would not have to pay anything after that.”
For those who may be interested in watching the Freeze compete on the road, those with Freeze subscriptions to this service would also be able to watch games at other school sites if these schools also have this service.
As for other events, the schools could also stream non-sporting events through this service.
Asked at the meeting if the MCC School Board took any action related to this, Baron said, “I don’t know if they gave us the blessing or if they actually voted on doing this.”
Both Superintendent Baron and MCC Superintendent Jeffrey Lund were contacted via email on Monday, August 31, for comment about what the MCC School Board approved in regards to this camera system, but the North Star News didn’t hear back from either prior to the press deadline.
To see the complete story, read the September 3 issue of the North Star News in print or online.