Last spring IRCS began a project to install lights on both our softball and baseball fields. The obvious advantage to having lights is we can now host evening events. This makes it easier for many of our parents to attend games as the start time can be pushed to after work hours. It also can help our teams play in a little cooler weather. (OK, it may not get that much cooler in Florida but at least the sun isn’t beating down on you while you watch and you don’t have to apply sunscreen.) It will also allow our teams (Middle School, Junior Varsity, and Varsity) to have more opportunities to practice. They previously have had to share the fields in daylight hours only. In February and March when the days are shorter, this really hinders what a coach can accomplish. The expanded field use will also give us the chance to host tournaments that will help generate more athletic revenue.
The process of lighting our fields isn’t as easy as you might think. Unlike the movie Field of Dreams - where farmer Ray Kinsella built a baseball diamond out of his Iowa cornfield – you can’t just hang some lights on wooden poles and have it be bright enough. Lights have to be of a certain brightness and height. Poles have to have a level of hurricane resistance. The concrete poles had to be planted in holes that needed to be drilled. Each of the big poles weigh 100,000 pounds, so it takes a pretty big crane to lift them up and put them in the ground. To get the crane in and around the area, much of the chain-link fencing had to be taken down. The combined weight of the poles and crane also left some rather large ruts where the tires sunk in. There were places that the weight broke the existing cement sidewalks that needed to be repaired before our first home football game. Thankfully, most of the mess will be gone by the time we have our Homecoming festivities on October 16th.
Setting the poles was a drawn out process due to the amount of rain that we experienced this summer. Normally, the company would mount the lights on the poles before erecting them. A flood in Houston, home of the plant that made the light fixtures, caused a substantial delay in the delivery of the lights. Once it was dry enough to plant the poles they did it. This meant the next step was to mount the lights on the poles after they were up. All of the new lighting has been fitted with shutters to cut down on the overflow into the surrounding neighborhoods. After that, all that was left was to aim them, which has been accomplished as well (in the rain).
We are currently working on permanent bleachers that will provide each field with ample seating. This is a good thing because for the first time we will be hosting the district tournaments this year for both baseball and softball. What an incredible opportunity for our teams to play on their home field for the district tournaments.
Our teams can’t wait for you to come out and see them play under the lights!