Players, coaches and fans are in for a big surprise when they attend the next night game at the Fife High School Stadium field.
Over the summer, workers replaced the stadium’s failing high-pressure sodium lights with new, state-of-art LED sports lights.
Through a generous grant from the Ben B. Cheney Foundation and donations from the Thunderbird Community Sports Foundation, the Fife High School Booster Club, Fife-Milton-Edgewood Junior Soccer, Fife Junior Football and the Edgewood-Fife-Milton Kiwanis, the Booster Club and the District were able to bring to Fife High School the same family of fixtures used to make Seattle’s Safeco
Field the first LED-lighted stadium in Major League Baseball.
The upgrade couldn’t come soon enough. Coaches say they had to adjust their playbooks to compensate for the stadium’s poor lighting. They had to actually eliminate some passing plays in the end zones because the corners were so dark. PA announcers like Kevin Ringus, who helped guide the project, said he was often unable to read the numbers on the backs of the soccer players.
“What a difference,” said Ringus who watched each phase of the installation, “It looks like daylight at 9 p.m.”
The GigaTera brand lights were provided by Federal Way-based lighting company PLANLED, which used the same laser guided techniques in Fife that they used to aim the lights at Safeco Field and Yankee Stadium.
“We take Fife’s stadium lighting very seriously,” said PLANLED CEO John Hwang. “We made a name for ourselves in professional sports, but our reputation depends on projects like Fife High School. We want their players, fans and administrators to enjoy the same visual benefits and energy savings we brought to the pros.”
Both Safeco and Yankee Stadium have cut their lighting energy consumption by more than 50 percent and their light levels exceed MLB standards while reducing glare on the field.
Fife is the first high school to install PLANLED’s sports lighting in Washington State. More are planned and there are installations currently underway in other states.
PLANLED and its installation partner on the Fife project, Gentech Northwest, replaced 32 aging 1,500-watt metal halide lights at the stadium with 32 GigaTera LED fixtures ranging from 500 to 800 watts. Even with an overall reduction of 20,800 watts, the on-field light levels and uniformity are vastly improved at Fife High. In many spots across the field, the light candles increased from 8 to 21.
Under the HID lights, photographer Al McFarland often “couldn’t see inside the face mask” with his camera. Today, he states: “I have not taken photos on any other high school field with this much visual acuity and brightness.”
The project qualified for a rebate from Tacoma Public Utilities and both BDM Services and Tacoma Metals aided in the recycling of the HID lamps and other metal. This further assisted the Booster Club and the Fife School District in paying for the project.
As Ringus put it, “It’s going to be great for both the players and the fans.”