Three Light Poles Deemed Susceptible to Wind Damage Removed From Fields

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Three wooden light poles are being removed from Jim Barnett Park in Winchester, Va., home to facilities serving Shenandoah University’s baseball and softball programs, following the recommendation of an external lighting inspection firm.

As reported by The Winchester Star, citing a university release, the formal inspection of lighting at Bridgeworth Stadium, home of Shenandoah's baseball team, and Rotary Field, home to Hornets softball, was conducted April 4 by Utility Asset Management (UAM), which delivered its report four days later.

Inspectors determined that two light poles â€” one on either side of the press box â€” at Bridgeforth Stadium and one pole beyond left field at Rotary Field were susceptible to potential damage in high wind and recommended that the poles be removed, the release states, as reported by the Star.

Those light poles will be removed today.

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The university ordered a formal inspection of the lighting at both facilities after the collapse of a light pole beyond the right-field fence along East Cork Street on March 20, when wind gusts approached 50 miles per hour in Winchester, the release states. Since that time, out of an abundance of caution, SU has stopped using Bridgeforth Stadium and Rotary Field during instances of high winds where gusts exceed 30 mph.

Since March 20, Shenandoah’s baseball team has ceased playing night games for the 2024 season at Bridgeforth Stadium, according to the release. SU’s softball team will no longer play night contests for the remainder of 2024 at Rotary Field following the removal of the poles.

As reported by the Star, the university is engaged in conversations with vendors about replacement lighting, and preliminary estimates include a minimum lead time of 12 weeks for installation. Additionally, university officials have contacted external parties who use Bridgeforth Stadium and Rotary Field, including the Valley Baseball League’s Winchester Royals, Winchester Baseball and the ShenVal Swarm.

The university entered a partnership with the city of Winchester in 2020 to assume management of Bridgeforth Stadium and Rotary Field for 40 years, the release states. When SU took over management of the fields, its plans included upgrading the lighting at the facilities as a part of Phase II renovations slated for completion by December 2025. Phase II plans have now been expedited to ensure the safety of all players, coaches and families using Bridgeforth Stadium and Rotary Field.

Related: CPSC Issues Alert Regarding Light Pole Inspections

Bridgeforth Stadium opened in 1979, and one of the original eight wooden light poles at the field will remain following the removal of the poles on either side of the press box on Wednesday, the release states. In 2022, Shenandoah installed a steel light pole with LED lights along the third-base line after the original wooden pole collapsed during a severe storm. One of the field’s original light poles was replaced with another wooden pole in 2008, while two others were replaced with new wooden poles in 2019.

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Of the six original light poles at Rotary Field, three will remain following the removal of the pole beyond the left-field fence, the Star reported, adding that two wooden poles were replaced at the facility in 2019.

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