When the Bears race down the steps at Bear Stadium for their 2012 home opener Sept. 7 against East Hamilton, they can expect to run out under a state-of-the-art lighting system which is in the process of being put together and installed.
Currently, the lights, poles and fixtures are waiting to be hoisted into place. The new network of illumination will cut in half the number of light poles used in the stadium since its inception.
“They are not up just yet,” said BCHS athletics director Turner Jackson. “We are going from eight poles to four poles. We are getting them and Lake Forest (Middle School) is getting them. Lake Forest and Bradley are the two county schools getting [new lights]. Lake Forest didn’t have any at all.”
The new illumination is being engineered by City Electric, the same local company contracted to install the new lights at Cleveland Middle, according to Jackson.
The lights being replaced at Bear Stadium went into service in 1972 and have served the Bears faithfully for close to 40 years.
“The county decided to put lights in and we are tickled to death,” said the AD. “I hope it will be a better-lighted field. We will see. We have fewer lights and fewer poles.”
Jackson acknowledged one of the deciding factors other than the obvious age of the existing lighting system is energy costs. With fewer lights using less power and producing more illumination, the decision was also a money-saving idea.
Bears head coach Damon Floyd said last week he hoped the lights would be installed already and is keeping his fingers crossed the process will be completed in time for an Aug. 4 scrimmage.
“I wish they were up,” said a smiling Floyd. “Our lights were old and we really needed new ones. We are just happy we are able to get them in.”
The installation has run into much the same problem the Bears have faced in their first week of practice, namely uncooperative weather. Jackson said a soggy field is a major factor to be considered when it comes to heavy equipment on the turf inside Bear Stadium.
“We had a little problem because ours were so big. We had to get a bigger crane and they had to cut up the poles,” said Jackson. “We have also had to deal with the weather. We didn’t want to go in there and tear up the stadium. But, I talked to them Thursday and I think everything will be OK.
“They are pretty much going to be in by then (Aug. 4), I’m pretty sure, unless we just have thunderstorms every day between now and then. But, I don’t see that happening. We needed the rain, but no wind. No more wind.”