Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

As part of an effort to save energy and money, the Maryland Stadium Authority is changing the way it lights Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the first time since the ballpark opened in 1992.

The state agency is using baseball’s off-season to install light-emitting diode, or LED, lights in the four towers used to illuminate the playing field.

Already, the old high-intensity discharge, or HID, lamps have been removed from the ballpark’s four light towers to make way for the switch. Starting early next year, contractors will begin installing the new lights on the same towers. All of the work is scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the 2017 baseball season.

“Our existing system was at the end of its useful life, so we had to start looking at other options,” said Phil Hutson, associate vice president of the stadium authority. “This is a new technology. We’re always trying to be more energy-efficient…It’s a good fit for us.”

The lighting technology is being changed as part of a $1.67-million upgrade to Oriole Park that the Maryland Stadium Authority is funding. In addition to the lights, the project also includes replacing the electrical infrastructure to which the lights are connected.

The change is not expected to adversely affect the look or feel of the ballpark, which is consistently ranked as one of the best in Major League Baseball. Lights on the scoreboard and in the concourses will not be altered.

HID lights are a family of gas-discharge lamps that create light by sending an electrical discharge between two electrodes and through an ionized gas. With LED lighting, an electrical current passes through semiconductor material, which illuminates tiny light sources called LEDs. When well designed, experts say, LED lighting can be more efficient, durable, versatile and longer-lasting than other forms.

Oriole Park is the latest public attraction to switch to LED lights in downtown Baltimore. In 2010, the National Aquarium replaced the blue neon wave on its exterior with LED technology.

Lights Camden Yards

Baltimore is the fifth MLB park in the United States to convert to LED lights, after facilities in Houston, San Diego, Seattle and New York. When it opens next year, the Atlanta Braves’ new ballpark also will have LED lights.

Before making any changes, Hutson said, the stadium authority weighed the pros and cons of continuing to use the old HID technology or switching to LED lights. After exploring all options, he said, stadium authority officials concluded it would make sense to change to LED technology.

Hutson said the change is expected to reduce operating costs by $1.2 million over the next 15 years. In addition, he said, the lights come with a 15-year parts and labor warranty, and that essentially eliminates maintenance costs over that period.

Hutson said Maryland Stadium Authority officials didn’t want Oriole Park to be the very first ballpark to make the switch to LED technology. “We didn’t want be the guinea pig,” he said. But after several other stadiums successfully made the move, the stadium authority felt comfortable about moving ahead.

Musco Sports Lighting of Oskaloosa, Iowa, is working with the stadium authority to install the new lights.

The stadium authority has no immediate plans to change the lights at M&T Bank Stadium at this point, Hutson said. Because the Ravens play fewer games per year, the cost savings would not be as great as the savings over a baseball season with 81 homes games, and because the stadium is not as old, its lights aren’t yet at the end of their useful life, he explained.

As part of the changeover at Oriole Park, there will be fewer light fixtures in all.

Under the old technology, Hutson said, the ballpark had 796 light fixtures on four towers. With the LED technology, it will have 440 fixtures. The light towers are above first base, third base, left field and right field.

One of the advantages of the new technology at Oriole Park, he said, is that the new lights will come on right away, whereas the old lamps took time to “warm up” before their output reached full lighting levels.

The instant on/off capability also allows for special effects not possible with the previous system, he said.

Courtesy Baltimore Orioles
Courtesy Baltimore Orioles

The new lights are rated to last for 35,000 hours. Given an 81 home-game season, in which the lights are on 10 hours each game day, that translates to 810 hours a year or a 44-year life span for the new lights, Hutson said.

In general, Hutson said, the average fan is unlikely to notice much change in the quality of the lighting. He said the LEDs tend to give a more direct light, and “not as much spillover” as HID lights. If the old lights were comparable to floodlights, he said, the new lights are more like flashlights.

According to Musco Sports Lighting, the LED lights provide a better quality of light for television broadcasts because they don’t have the “flicker” effect the old lights did.

“Custom designed reflectors with advanced light control produces an environment that is visually and aesthetically pleasing for participants, spectators and HD broadcasts, while maximizing energy savings,’ the company said.

Musco calculates that the new lights will reduce energy consumption by 54 percent compared to the previous lighting equipment. The reduction in carbon dioxide, the company said, is the equivalent of removing 1,240 cars or the energy use of 621 homes for one year.

Dimming controls will allow for the light output to be varied when full power of the system is not needed, saving additional energy, the company said.

Other benefits of the switch are the fiscal message it sends to taxpayers and the example it sets for other sports facilities. This fall, the stadium authority installed nine electric vehicle charging stations in its parking lots to accommodate drivers.

“We’re trying to make our operation as green and lean as we can,” Hutson said. “This is one of the pieces of the puzzle.”

Ribbon cutting today for 1812 Ashland Avenue

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels and others have scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon today for 1812 Ashland Avenue, the newest addition to the East Baltimore Development Inc. renewal area north of the Johns Hopkins medical campus.

The seven-story, $65.6 million building contains 167,000 square feet of laboratory and office space and has been marketed as an “innovation hub” for emerging and rapidly growing life science companies that want to be near Hopkins.

Among the occupants will be an expanded version of Hopkins’ successful Fast Forward East incubator space and, starting in early 2017, a prototype Starbucks Opportunity Café that will provide job training and jobs for area residents.

Forest City-New East Baltimore Partnership is the developer. Perkins + Will collaborated with McKissick and McKissick on the design. Core Design Studio is the landscape architect. The general contractor is Clark/RAM, a partnership between Clark Construction and RAM Contracting.

The street number ‘1812’ was selected because the building is in the 1800 block of Ashland Avenue and the city was marking the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the Battle of Baltimore when the project was in the planning stages.

Made in Baltimore shop coming to Hampden

Just in time for the holidays, a Made in Baltimore shop is coming to Hampden.

The Industrial Arts Collective has set Dec. 2 as the date when it is opening a “pop up storefront” in Hampden featuring locally made products. The shop will be on the second level of 1021 W. 36th Street, above Doubledutch and Sixteen Tons, and will feature products from more than 40 local makers. A grand opening party will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. that day.

H&M opening White Marsh store on Nov. 30

H&M is opening a 21,000-square-foot store at White Marsh Mall (located at 8200 Perry Hall Boulevard) on Nov. 30. It will be the 13th Maryland location for the fashion retailer and will employ 40 people. Besides departments for women and men, it will carry the H&M Kids Collection for newborns.

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.

2 replies on “Oriole Park Gets Energy-Efficient Lights; Innovation Hub Opens in East Baltimore; Made in Baltimore Shop Comes to Hampden; H&M Arrives in White Marsh”

  1. do you know anything about what looks like a pop-up shop in cross keys featuring baltimore-centric items? it just showed up this weekend.

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