After approving lights to be installed at Taos High’s baseball and softball fields at a June 11 school board meeting, the wheels are already turning to make the illumination a reality.
“We’re all excited about it,” THS head baseball coach Mark Montoya said. “I think it will be a great thing for the community.”
Coach Montoya said when his team travels around the state, tons of teams say they want to come play in Taos because of the cooler temperatures in Northern New Mexico and because of the grass field, which doesn’t trap heat like turf fields do. The coach said his team recently attended a camp at UNM in Albuquerque, and rubber from the field was melting to their shoes.
With only one field and multiple entities using it, however, finding the time to host a youth camp or tournament is a difficult thing to do. Taos High hasn’t hosted a tournament on its new field. The extra hours, however, would help remedy the demand on the field.
“People already like to come up here, but we’re shutting down when it’s starting to cool off,” coach Montoya said. Besides being cooler at night, its also less windy.
Another benefit is the high school players won’t miss as much school since games will be able to start later.
Doug Patterson, an architect at LDG who is preparing the bid package, said a lot of the infrastructure for lights is already in place at the baseball field. THS’ softball field was built with a smaller budget so the same infrastructure isn’t in place, but they’re also getting quotes to prepare a bid package for the softball field. “I think it’s a priority to make sure the softball field has lights as well,” Patterson said.
In the next couple of weeks, Patterson said they’ll send the bid packages out for the baseball field, then they’ll spend about a month reviewing the bids and then, after awarding the bid, the lights will take roughly three months to actually install. So far LDG has met with an electrical engineer and started the design.
The plan is to install 70 foot-candle lights in the infield and 50 foot-candle lights in the outfield. By comparison, the lights at the THS football field and at the Eco Park are both 30 foot-candles.
Initial estimates for the baseball lights are $380,000. The field itself cost approximately $1 million.
Installing lights could also entice the Taos Blizzard to stay here. The expansion Pecos League team has been playing about one game a week in Taos and six on the road. The majority of their home games on the ‘Taos Tundra’ also take place on weekdays when most people are working.
“It would be amazing to be able to play in Taos with lights,” Blizzard manager Matt Leahy said. “The Taos field is sitting on a gold mine and I think lights are the next step.”
“Everyone loves playing under the lights,” coach Montoya echoed. “(The lights) will be the shining gem on top of playing baseball in Taos.”