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New lights approved for Memorial Stadium
Lights will be installed in the spring
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The bus features GBHS colors and a Power Panther logo. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education on Monday approved spending $158,400 to replace the metal-halide lamp lights at Great Bend High School’s Memorial Stadium with LED lights from Mucso Lighting. The cost includes $139,000 for Musco’s SportsCluster light system plus $19,400 to a local contractor for installation.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said three local vendors submitted bids for the installation and $19,400 was the lowest one. Other bids were $22,615.50 and $68,360.

The work will probably be done in the spring.

Thexton said he has been looking into improved lighting for the stadium for the past three or four years.

“When I first got here, we actually relamped all of our lights at Memorial Stadium and the light we have now — I don’t want to say it’s original with the stadium but it might be, because it’s the old metal-halide lights.”

Although the old lights cost less than LED lights, they are less efficient and they cost more to operate, he said. “And over time, the downfall with those metal-halide lights is they dim. So, we’re getting to the point now where we’re going to have to relamp all of our lighting.”

Thexton said people who attend night events and those who try to take photos or shoot videos notice how dark the field is. That’s why he looked at how much it would cost to upgrade lighting for the field to 40 footcandles, which was recommended. 

Musco Sports lights are already in place at other local venues, such as the Great Bend Sports Complex. The lights have a 10-year warranty.

“We’ve looked at how much our field is used, not only by sports, but we also have band there in the morning — they’re out there with the lights on,” Thexton said. The Great Bend Recreation Department uses the field for soccer games, “so we have a number of events that go on there,” he concluded.

The purchase would reduce operating costs and practically eliminate maintenance costs, he added.

“If anything comes up, they take care of it. And the controllers are all down (at) ladder height, so once these are installed, you do not have to go back up there." At present, if someone needs to change a bulb it requires hiring an outside contractor with a lift, he said.

Although the lights are expensive, they have come down in price, Thexton added. “When I first looked at this LED lighting, just for the lighting alone was over $180,000.”

One thing that really helped with the cost was that USD 428 does not need to replace its light poles, Thexton said. They will be repainted before the new system is installed.

At present, there are eight lights per pole but the new system will have 10 lights per pole. “This will be a bright, cleaner light. You’ll notice a big difference out there,” he said.

Architect Terry Wiggers, who attended the school board meeting to talk about facilities improvements and the possibility of a future bond election, said the lighting standards of the Musco product are what he would recommend. He noted that thanks to the light control technology, neighbors of stadiums aren’t impacted by glare or light spill, a feature the company also touts.

Musco also claims that athletes and fans enjoy cleaner, more uniform light. School board president Chris Umphres, who is also sports director for the Great Bend Recreation Commission, noted that they have found the Musco lights at the Sports Complex satisfactory.