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Let There Be Light

Great Lawn Becomes First Lighted Athletic Field on Campus

default article imageGenesis reads “And God said let there be light and there was light.”

Over the summer, a similar event happened to the Great Lawn that would leave an impact on the men’s and women’s soccer season.

Thanks to a generous donation from Jules Plangere Jr, four light poles were installed on the Great Lawn, giving both soccer teams the ability to play night games.

“It’s all about the lights right now,” said Athletic Director Marilyn McNeil. “We’ve always talked about lights in athletics. There’s such an aura about playing under the lights in any athletic endeavor and it opens up opportunities to use the field at other times other than sun hours,” said McNeil.

July 20 was the date when all four light poles were standing and once they were all up, many new opportunities became available to the soccer team. Opportunities that were not there before.

Not only can the team benefit from being able to play at night, but it will also be very beneficial to the fan base. “This will allow more fans to get to the game. If you play in the afternoon during the week, many students are in class and people in the surrounding community are at work. With night games, it will allow more people to attend the games and I do believe attendance will be higher,” said President Paul Gaffney II.

Instead of putting in the typical lights that can be found on soccer fields, the four lights were place in each end zone (one in each corner) and they stand 90 feet tall. They were built this way so it would not block the view of Wilson hall.

So far, there has been no objection from neighbors in the surrounding community. If you walk a few steps away from the field at night you find yourself in darkness. The lights were built in a way that they are solely focused on the field and do not go out into the academic buildings or the surrounding community.

Robert McCourt, head coach of the men’s soccer team, feels that the lights generate a lot of excitement for both the team and the fans. “The lights add a bit of electricity to the games. The team gets fired up more for night games and it gives more people the opportunity to come out and see our games,” said McCourt.

The men’s soccer team has played four games under the lights so far. They played two exhibition matches against Army and Delaware and they have played two regular season games as well, which were both 10 victories over Saint Peter’s and Boston University.

The women’s team has played one game under the lights so far and it was a 60 victory over NJIT on Labor Day this past Monday.

Senior defenseman/mid fielder and one of the team captains of the men’s team, RJ Allen feels it is a really good experience to play under the lights. “The atmosphere vibe is a lot better at night and it’s a better experience than playing during the day, because more people can come out to night games,” said Allen.

Attendance appears to be up and the University has rented more seats than last year. The seats go from end zone to end zone, which is much larger than the bleachers from last year. According to Coach McCourt, the attendance was in the range of 1,100 to 1,200 for the night scrimmages.

The lights on the Great Lawn appear to be a success so far, so does this mean that maybe someday we will see lights on Kessler field or even the baseball field?

“Yes I would like to see lights put on Kessler next. What we have to do is demonstrate that we are responsible citizens and use the lights only when we need them, show there is no light pollution outside the field, and to find the support financially to do so,” Gaffney said.

Dr. McNeil added “I would love to see lights on every field if we could. It just the issue of finding a donor who is willing to put forth the money to have them built,” said McNeil.

Could we see possible Saturday night football games in the future? Only time will tell. For now, we as a University can go and watch our nationally ranked soccer team light it up on the Great Lawn at night. The next chance to see the Hawks under the lights will be this Friday at 7 pm.