Benjamin Russell’s football team will be playing under new lights at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex this season for the first time since it was built 30 years ago.
The City of Alexander City, Alexander City Schools and BRHS combined to split the cost of the $150,000 project which is designed to eliminate shadows on the field and save energy costs.
“The new lights have no spillage,” Alexander City Parks and Recreation Department director Sonny Wilson said. “The light goes right down directly on the field. We went from 96 lights to 54. They are still halogen lights but we hope because they are more efficient and because there aren’t as many that it will save us money. That’s what we are banking on. We considered LEDs but they’re almost double the cost.”
The city paid $75,000 and the school system and Benjamin Russell paid the other $75,000, Wilson said. The city’s portion was in last year’s budget and was carried over to this year.
“Our football stadium is a real asset to the city,” Mayor Tommy Spraggins said. “We get a lot of compliments on it, how beautiful it is, and we’ve got to maintain it. I think it’s a good investment for the city.”
Spraggins said Wilson told him teams complained about shadows on the field caused by the older lights. The new lights were bought from Musco Lighting.
“They’re the leading sports facility lighting company in the U.S,” Wilson said. “People should be able to tell a difference. We had a lot of shadows on the field. We had gotten down to 28 candlepower and it should be 50. I’ve been here eight years and I’ve noticed it for eight years. When I started it was at 38 candlepower and it’s gotten worse each year. We even had some bulbs that weren’t working. We’d replace them and they’d blow out a week or two later.”
After the wiring was completed last week, the new lights have been tested and Wilson said the shadows are gone.
Wilson said changing bulbs had become a challenge the city no longer has to contend with.
“We have a 25-year warranty on these lights so if they go out they will come back and change them,” he said. “We’ve had a problem getting to the poles. They’re 100 feet tall and our light department trucks won’t reach that far. Firemen climbed the poles to change out the lights.”
S&G Waldrop Electric of Bessemer installed the new lights.