NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Opening night was especially special for baseball fans in Nacogdoches after the city unveiled new lighting for the Nacogdoches baseball complex on Old Tyler Road.
Seven fields at the Nacogdoches City Baseball Complex have been in the dark since the previous lights were turned out in 2017 for safety reasons. Games were still played on the field during the day, but at night, teams were forced to either reschedule their games or find a field with nighttime lighting.
“In February of 2017 we discovered there was some serious problems with the power out there, so we disconnected it for safety issues," said Brian Bray, director of community services. "Then in July of 2017 we lost all power, the main power feed.”
A combination of age, gophers, and fire ants did a number on the lighting system. That was enough for the city to spend $800,000 to put in new, UIL-approved lighting.
The contractor, White Electric, made a big promise to about 400 kids and their families that the lights would be up and running in time for the first pitch of the 2019 season; a promise they made good on.
“The thing about the night games is that we don’t have to wait until the weekend for all the games now, we get them knocked out during the week,” said Dekevoin Morris. “I like being out here at night.”
“I can catch more balls, and it’s funner,” said 6-year-old James Patrick Pitts, still donning his uniform after his first game of the season.
The lights put an end to canceling games due to darkness. It also provided Dana Hart more opportunity to schedule family commitments to a son and granddaughter.
“I’ve got him playing this ball and I’ve got my granddaughter playing T-ball," said Hart. "She played last night under the lights, so it was awesome.”
Work continues at the ballpark on primarily safety lighting, but for all practical purposes the lights are on for good. The lights are approved for UIL tournaments, which is a moneymaker for any city that hosts them. The new installation is also well insulated from gophers and fire ants.
The city also installed new security lights in the parking lot so that when the ballpark lights are turned out, there’s still enough light for players and families to walk back to their cars.