Giant screen to stay for Commonwealth Games

Crowds flocked to Festival Square to watch Andy Murray win Wimbledon. Picture: Jane Barlow
Crowds flocked to Festival Square to watch Andy Murray win Wimbledon. Picture: Jane Barlow
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THE Capital’s giant TV screen is set for a stay of execution until after the Commonwealth Games despite heading for the chopping block amid concerns about high maintenance costs and public apathy.

A bid to retain the huge 25m sq LED screen has been launched by London firm SIS Digital Advertising, which intends to broadcast live sport like the Ryder Cup and Glasgow 2014 as well as commercial and community content.

But planning chiefs could still pull the plug on the project, with a decision on the future of the screen expected in the coming weeks.

The screen was paid for by the BBC ahead of London 2012 but the cost of its upkeep was met by the council and since it was installed in 2009 there have been repeated calls to scrap it.

There was a reverse of fortunes for the screen’s reputation in July, however, when hundreds thronged Festival Square to cheer Andy Murray’s victory in the men’s Wimbledon Final.

Patrick Noone, director of SIS Digital Advertising, said he hoped the big screen would “run and run”.

He said: “It’s a great amenity and it would be a shame to rip it up because there’s so much going on this year, including the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.

“We were alerted to the fate of the screen in a newspaper report saying it was going to be scrapped. We talked with a manager at the Sheraton Hotel who said that during Wimbledon there was a real party atmosphere and there was never any trouble and it would be a shame to put it away.”

Mr Noone said all running costs would be met by his London firm, with some content being provided by advertisers. It is understood costs and maintenance for the screen runs to around £26,000 a year.

Darren Pilley, manager of nearby bar Shakespeare’s, welcomed the news as a boon for local businesses. He said: “This is fantastic because during the Andy Murray game all the bars around here rammed, so I think it’s great for bars and restaurants around here.”