Veale Co. snares pact to build new freeway digital sign
Current sign dubbed obsolete despite being only 10 years old
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By Jud Snyder  November 30, 2012 12:00 am

The digital sign next to the freeway at the western end of State Farm Drive has already achieved “obsolete” status, according to the sign’s owners, the City of Rohnert Park. So, Tuesday night, the city council unanimously voted to lease it to Veale Investment Properties of Santa Rosa to rebuild, manage, operate and maintain.

Even in this digital age it might seem a bit extraordinary that a digital sign installed in 2003 could be called “obsolete” less than 10 years later. But apparently high tech progress has galloped ahead and RP’s sign, stuck with “primitive” wiring and outdated computer functions, has been left in the dust.

It was first built as a means of promoting Spreckels Performing Arts Center when Michael Grice was director. It had a modest success attracting other  advertisers.

Now it faces demolition and replacement by a probably larger digital sign from the Veale company. It’s a 20-year lease.
There was competition from Clear Channels and Station Casinos of Las Vegas for the job.

Clear Channels is best known for its array of AM and FM radio stations nationwide and its billboard  construction. But they told the council Sonoma County “is not considered part of the Greater Bay Area” and national advertising would be difficult to obtain for any digital billboard this far north of the Golden Gate.

Station Casinos had a bid close to the Veale proposal, but they wanted the casino being built by the Graton Rancheria tribe to get 50 percent of the sign’s revenue on one sign board with 37½ percent on an adjacent sign board for businesses and
12½ percent to the city.

The city could also continue with the existing sign, although they say maintaining it is getting to be financially “burdensome.” The city could also build a new digital sign with up-to-date technology. But the costs of such a project were estimated at $600,000 to $1 million. Both options were rejected.

“Veale has a good track record in the county,” said Councilman Joe Callinan.

“I like dealing with a local company. I think it’s important that we do so,” said Councilman Amy Ahanotu.

“I think our agreement is a great decision,” said vice-Mayor Pam Stafford.

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