Feature Article - October 2004
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Let There Be Lighting

How to illuminate the world inside and outside your facility

By Kyle Ryan


Sports lights are high-intensity fixtures that require precision focusing to be effective. To center the highest intensity point of the beam on a certain point on the field, the light poles have to be higher—otherwise the light beam isn't focused, thus creating light spill.

The design of the poles themselves can make them obtrusive. For a more natural look, some parks opt for wooden poles, a grave mistake according to Whitman.

"Wood poles are not acceptable in our opinion at all," he says. For one thing, it takes time to aim lights precisely. Wooden poles warp and bend with age, meaning lights will have to be adjusted regularly. Second, Whitman says the poles tend to be chemically treated, so when it comes time to replace that warped pole, it's considered hazardous waste. Finally, and most unnerving, wooden poles rot on the inside, and it's undetectable. Is that pole sturdy or just a brisk breeze away from collapsing? You can't tell from the outside.

The most common type of pole Whitman deals with is galvanized steel, which is either mounted to a concrete foundation (sturdier, but more expensive, longer to build) or buried in the ground (cheaper, unobtrusive visually, but susceptible to decay). Aluminum and concrete poles are a little more costly. Although concrete has a low-maintenance finish, Whitman says concrete poles are limited in height because of shipping—a truck can only carry so much.


LIGHT LEVELS

ACTIVITY
Baseball
Basketball
Golf Driving Range
  Horizontal (at grade)
  Vertical (at 200 yards)
Football
Golf Course Tees (at grade)
  Fairways (at grade)
  Greens (at grade)
Horse Racing
  Horizontal (at track)
  Vertical (at 5 feet)
Ice Hockey
Rodeo
Roller Hockey (at grade)
Soccer (outdoor)
Softball
Swimming Pool
  (at water level)
Deck (at water level)
Tennis
Track & Field
  Track (at grade)
Volleyball
CLASS I
150/100 FC
 
 
 
 
100 FC
 
 
 
 
30/100 FC
70 FC
 
 
 
 
150/100 FC
 
 
 
125 FC
CLASS II
100/70 FC
 
 
 
 
50 FC
 
 
 
 
 
 
50 FC
50 FC
50 FC
50 FC
100/70 FC
 
30 FC
20 FC
75 FC
50 FC
 
30 FC
CLASS II
50/30 FC
30 FC
20 FC
10 FC
 
30 FC
 
 
 
 
 
 
30 FC
30 FC
30 FC
30 FC
50/30 FC
 
30 FC
10 FC
50 FC
30 FC
20 FC
30 FC
CLASS II
30/20 FC
20 FC
20 FC
10 FC
 
20 FC
5 FC
3 FC
5 FC
 
 
 
20 FC
 
20 FC
20 FC
30/20 FC
 
10 FC
10 FC
30 FC
20 FC
20 FC
20 FC

DATA COURTESY OF LITHONIA LIGHTING


REVELATION

It wasn't a problem for Schaumburg's Olympic Park, which uses direct-burial concrete poles. Although pricier, Otto says it was all part of the plan to make Olympic Park stand out among similar facilities in the area.

"We wanted to provide so that people would come there and say, 'This is a good place to play at night,'" Otto says. "We want to make that impression, so we were willing to spend the extra money."

It's money Otto believes the park easily recoups.

"In our community, we have a lot of people playing athletics, not only youth but adults," he says. "We have tournaments that bring in additional revenue to the community through hotels and through restaurants, so these things are important. We have a number of tournaments all year long; they bring in millions of dollars to the community."

That long view makes footing the bill for an expensive lighting system a little bit easier.

"The initial cost of putting it up is expensive," Otto says. "You also have to consider the long-range maintenance costs…That's why when you initially buy a fixture, you're looking at those type of things so that you'll have a fixture that will last for years and years and years, not something you have to replace in five years."