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New Mexico State University

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New football field lights will save money for NMSU

Lights! Cameras! Action!

his may be the call on a movie set, the NMSU Athletics Department has made the same call.

The action began when NMSU moved into the Western Athletics Conference (WAC).

The cameras will be in place to televise several Aggie games this season, including the opener against UTEP Sept. 3.

And then there are the lights. Some people are wondering: What's with the new lights?

The Western Athletics Conference and ESPN require a minimum of 100 foot-candles worth of light intensity before a game can be televised, said Herb Taylor, senior associate athletics director for operations at NMSU. A foot-candle is the standard measure for light intensity.

Last year, NMSU rented lights at a cost of $63,000 per televised game, Taylor said, but this year the university invested in permanent lights as a stadium improvement. Four new poles with 18 light fixtures each will supplement existing lights at the four corners of the field. The cost of the new lights will be recouped in one season because the university will not have to rent lights.

The old lights are 27 to 28 years old and the fixtures are dirty, Taylor said. Therefore, they have to be re-lamped and re-aimed.

"Re-lamped" simply means the bulbs need to be replaced, said Rich MacRorie, executive director of facilities operations at NMSU. "Re-aimed" means the lights have to point at their intended target area, in this case, the football field and not the stands.

Also, the new lights must be "burned in." This is necessary to stabilize the output of a new lamp and to get past the "early failure" period for the lamps. For example, if the lamp has a crack in the tube, a bad electrical connection or some other kind of defect, it will usually fail within a few hours' operation, but it can be replaced. If a lamp successfully burns for about 40 hours, it's probably good for a few thousand hours' burn time, MacRorie said.

So then, why is the stadium lit when there is no game? Different activities, such as team practice or band practice may take place in the stadium at night. Also, security lighting, which consists of a few extra fixtures on the original poles, are on every night to help cut down on vandalism. In the past, some people had used their four-wheel drive vehicles to "do donuts" on the field and other acts of vandalism, MacRorie said.

The cost of operating security lighting is under $1 an hour, said MacRorie.

Taylor said the Athletics Department is cooperating with the Astronomy Department on the lights on the west side of the field so the lights will not interfere with sky watching activities. On the east side, Taylor said the lights are up for two reasons: to light up the logo on the east berm and as security for students using the Stan Fulton Center at night.