This year, St. Louis Cardinal baseball fans and players will experience something new at Busch Stadium, especially during night games. In January, electricians from St. Louis-based Sachs Electric Co. began the process of replacing the ballpark's lights with LEDs.
"We have changed out 680 existing metal halide light fixtures from the original 2006 stadium construction to new LED light fixtures and drivers," said Joe Barnard, senior vice president—St. Louis and Illinois regions, for Sachs Electric. "We have also completely rewired each lighting tower, installing new 480-volt power distribution equipment and branch circuit wiring."
The project, which is expected to be completed by the end of March in time for the Cardinals' home opener on April 4, has had its challenges but also some exciting and interesting elements.
"The most challenging part of the installation was at the light fixture locations at the top of the light towers," Barnard said. "That work included lowering the existing fixtures, which weighed over 80 pounds, hoisting the new LED fixtures and drivers, and installing wire for the fixtures through cross arms."
Unfortunately, these were the hardest areas to access, and as a result, the tough winter weather adversely affected the schedule. The EC lost about three weeks due to weather, but Barnard still expected the project to be completed on schedule.
Barnard said the most exciting part of the project was putting the team's history into perspective. In fact, it was Sachs Electric that installed the first lights in St. Louis' Sportsman Park in 1939 and 1940 for the first night baseball game ever played in St. Louis. At that time, there were 768 1,500-watt incandescent fixtures, which only produced around 175 foot-candles at field level. According to Barnard, that was state of the art for that era.
"The new LED lighting will produce between 300 and 400 foot-candles, roughly twice that of the lights in 1940, while consuming less than half the energy," he said.
The new lighting system has a number of other impressive features. For example, they are addressable, allowing them to be controlled individually. They have instant on-off, and they can produce visual effects, such as chasing lights and random flashing.
"The fans will really notice and appreciate the theatrical effects that the new LED lighting technology offers," he said. "There will be more exciting and vivid home run celebrations as well as other game events, improving the overall game experience."
Barnard also said he was excited to see the creative things the Cardinals come up with using this new technology.
"The players will really appreciate the uniformity of the new lights, as well as reduced glare and shadows," Barnard said. "Most importantly, the ball should be easier to see and follow."