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Orioles Assured Of Bright Future, At Least From New LED Lights

May 15, 2017
It's not a whole lot different than changing all of the light bulbs in your house.

But on a much grander scale, for sure.

The Orioles and Maryland Stadium Authority have installed LED lights on the four towers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, replacing the high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps that have been in place since the park opened in 1992.

Musco Sports Lighting, an Iowa-based company that has been in business since 1976, won the $1.67 million deal to do the work at Camden Yards. Musco has also installed LED systems at the Padres' Petco Park and the Astros' Minute Maid Park, as well as at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans; AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas; NRG Stadium in Houston; and Emirates Stadium in England, home of the Arsenal soccer team.

In 2015, the Seattle Mariners were the first team in Major League Baseball to install LEDs. Yankee Stadium, the Texas Rangers' Globe Life Park, the Twins' Target Field and the Braves' SunTrust Park also have LEDs, but none of those were manufactured or installed by Musco. 

(The Orioles haven't fared particularly well in games played under LED lights. They struck out a MLB record 52 times while getting swept during a three-game series last year in Minute Maid Park. They also were 0-4 in Seattle, 1-3 in Texas and 6-7 at Yankee Stadium.)

Jeff Rogers, vice president for sales at Musco, said in a written response to questions posed by PressBox that LED lighting is the wave of the future.

"Yes, the cost and efficiency of the LED light source continues to improve to make it the best value solution for many facilities of all sizes," he said. "Improved efficiency, the whiter light, instant on/off, dimming and the ability to create dynamic light shows are some of the beneficial characteristics of the LED chip."

Without getting too lighting-geek on you, LEDs use multiple narrow beams of light to produce a brighter and more uniform illumination than HIDs. 

LEDs are said to produce significantly less glare and fewer shadows on the field and create better color and more true-to-life pictures on high-definition TV pictures.

In addition, LEDs can cut energy use by 54 percent over HIDs, according to Rogers, which results in greatly reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

"The LED light source converts energy more efficiently than metal halide technology," Rogers said. "With the instant on/off/dimming capabilities, venues can adjust the light level when full power of the system is not needed and implement special effects. When properly designed, an LED system can create a better viewing experience for everyone involved."

Though, according to Rogers, installing an LED lighting system is a complicated procedure.

"To effectively control the light coming from thousands of LED chips takes a complex system of optics and reflectors that will apply the light to the field with uniformity, while also preventing glare from shining into the eyes of players and spectators, and preserving darkness in the surrounding areas where light isn't intended," he said.

The new lights are expected to last more than 40 years. So when Baltimore is celebrating the 65th anniversary of Camden Yards in 2057, it very well could be under lights now shining on Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and center fielder Adam Jones.

LED systems aren't just for professional sports.

Musco said they have installed them at Towson University's outdoor tennis courts, where neighbors were concerned about light leaking into their yards, as well as the football stadium at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Md.; a football practice field at the Bullis School in Potomac, Md.; and the outdoor basketball and tennis courts at the Glenarden Community Center in Prince George's County.

"The costs have come down significantly to help make a high-quality LED system an affordable choice," Rogers said. "For facilities that have higher hours of usage, the efficiency and maintenance savings will help offset any higher capital expenses."

Issue 233: May 2017