By Marty Gordon
The Friday Night Lights are a little brighter in Radford, and a new turf field is just around the corner for Blacksburg High School. Both have become necessary for safety reasons and a better playing surface.
A lighting replacement at the Radford High School football stadium was completed this summer and is the first LED installation at a Virginia high school football field. The key is there is no light bleed into the surrounding neighborhood.
The project consists of the replacement of existing lighting at the stadium, including replacement of pole bases, poles and LED fixtures.
Radford superintendent Rob Graham said a hole in one of the stadium lights was found in early fall last year.
“Thompson and Litton, a local company, felt like they could do a temporary fix of the light with the hole (completed last fall), but were worried about the age of the lights (50 years old) and what the weather had done to them over this time period,” he said.
The company felt like the best solution was to put in LED lighting as it would make the stadium safer, provide better lighting and decrease our utility costs dramatically.
“I think the lights will pay for themselves with utility savings within a 10-year period,” Graham said.
The older lights were not LED nor able to be operated by a cell phone, which the new ones are turned on and off by. The new lights also project more lighting on the field while eliminating excessive lighting that could be seen from far away.
“So now, Walker Street will not be nearly as lighted as it used to be on Friday nights or during evening soccer matches. In addition, there are four light poles compared to six with the old lighting opening up more space for the fans,” Graham said.
The superintendent said by upgrading the lights over the summer, they have made the RHS stadium safer, more accessible, energy efficient as well as more welcoming and inviting to all who play and watch.
The total of the project was $319,658, which was under budget of the original $400,000 amount.
Over in Blacksburg, a private fundraising effort by the school’s Athletic Club has hit the brakes. The group issued a statement Friday on Facebook that as of last week, fundraising is about $150,000 short of the needed cash.
Initially, the group had hoped to write a check on November 1 for $350,000. There is a contingency plan in place to cover a shortfall should that occur, but that would add additional costs to the completion of this project and is one the group would prefer not to have to utilize if at all possible.
So, the club has announced another plea to all Bruins, fans of Bruins, band parents, lacrosse parents, football parents, soccer parents, BHS Bruin Alumni and BHS Indians Alumni.
All pledges and donations can be mailed to: BAC Drive for 75; PO Box 707; Blacksburg, VA 24063-0707.
Last season, damage to the middle of the BHS field caused concerns about possible injuries with as many as three state playoff games being moved to Christiansburg last season.
Plans call for construction to begin no earlier than November with the new turf to be ready for soccer and lacrosse play in the spring.