Denver International Airport officials anticipate paying off the giant and glitchy $14.5 million sign on Peña Boulevard sometime this decade.
It will happen within a decade, in fact, said spokesperson Emily Williams. The 1,000-foot display outside the airport is pulling in much more ad revenue now than when it was first turned on in late 2017.
Also, the airport paid nothing to fix the sign, which malfunctioned barely a year after it was installed, Williams said. The sign itself cost $11.5 million plus another $3 million for 12 years of maintenance.
Initially hundreds of light rods that make up the sign — alongside several large-screen advertising displays — smoothly transitioned from one color to another, but they turned erratic and, on April 5, 2019, went black as the airport pulled the plug.
Panasonic, the company behind the sign, covered all repair costs and it was turned back on in the fall, Williams said. Company representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
While the light rods were off, the advertising displays remained operational, Williams said. But still they weren’t actively filled with ads until March 2019, when the airport hired OUTFRONT Media to manage advertisements. Before then the airport only collected $12,500 a month, the minimum guaranteed by OUTFRONT.
At that rate, it would have taken 93 years to pay off the sign’s costs, although airport officials always anticipated paying it off much sooner.
Now advertising revenue is about three times higher, and Williams said officials expect to pay the sign off in seven to 10 years.
Between March and December 2019, the airport collected $354,136 in ad revenue. It’s still well short of the $1.2 million in ad sales anticipated for the contract’s first year but officials have predicted that sales will increase over the years.