Point Loma will be lit for football home opener
by SCOTT HOPKINS
Published - 08/18/17 - 08:02 AM | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sometime around 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 25, someone will flip a switch (or two or three) and Bennie Edens Field will be instantly bathed in bright, new LED lighting.

That action, however simple, took 93 years.

That evening, Point Loma High School's football team will take the field for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff in its season-opener against Oceanside's El Camino Wildcats, and the era of "Friday Night Lights" will officially begin for a campus that has never in its history hosted a night athletic event illuminated by permanent lighting.

The date shall be long-remembered by students and staff of Point Loma High School. While there may be 2,500 people on hand for the game, as is common in landmark events such as this, 25,000 locals will someday brag about being on hand to witness this community celebration.

It should be something special!

Head football coach Mike Hastings is hoping the same community spirit and enthusiasm that results in overflow crowds for his team's annual Homecoming game will prevail at each of the Pointers' six home games this season and possible two playoff dates in November.

Covered light from the four 72-foot poles has been directed by computers to keep as much light as possible on the field of play with minimal spillage. A new public address system has also been installed.

The idea of lighting venerable Pete Ross Stadium began about eight years ago, when the San Diego Unified School District set out to provide equal and quality athletic facilities at each of its high schools. Many of these stadium upgrades were welcomed by communities, but with PLHS situated in close proximity to some neighborhood homes, opposition began, including the filing of a lawsuit alleging the school district did not follow local and state regulations and procedures.

But in June, a Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the school district, paving the way for the Aug. 25 opener. Opponents are planning to appeal the ruling.

PLHS Principal Hans Becker has given his word the school will carefully follow a Field Use Policy developed specifically for PLHS and adopted by the school district.

The document limits the number of lighted evening events to 18 total per year, and those must be divided equally among men's and women's sports. When used to extend practice times for school teams, the lights will be turned off by 7:30 p.m. nightly. And, the policy mandates meetings between school officials and neighbors on a regular basis to discuss any concerns.

Future stadium improvements include first-ever new seating for 500 visiting fans on the North side of the stadium along with a restroom/snack bar building for their use. Also, a first-ever press box will be built at the top of the current stadium and the field's scoreboard will be replaced.

When it opened in 1925, PLHS occupied only 17 acres, and only male students played a very limited number of sports. Over the decades, the number of sports has grown substantially and the addition of a full slate of sports for females has placed extreme limits on available practice space for 800 students who are involved in athletics comprising over 30 teams.

To put this in perspective, by state law, a new public high school for 2,000 students built today would require a minimum 51 acres of land, or exactly three times the space available to PLHS students.

So let's turn on those lights!

Pointers vs. Wildcats

Where: Point Loma High School.

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25.

Info: pointlomahigh.com.
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