SBJ/June 18 - 24, 2001/This Weeks Issue

Evening telecasts push Air Force to install permanent stadium lights

Athletic officials at the Air Force Academy finally have given the word: Let there be lights.

Almost as an afterthought to last week's announcement by Brad De-Austin, deputy athletic director, that the academy hopes to raise $5 million for a new baseball stadium and other projects, school officials confirmed that they intend to have $500,000 worth of lights installed at Falcon Stadium this summer.

ABC has contacted Air Force about televising its Sept. 1 season opener against defending national champion Oklahoma, with kickoff set for 6 p.m. local time in Colorado Springs, Colo. That game would be carried regionally, since ABC already has scheduled a Wisconsin-Oregon game for the same time and is considering another regional game involving a Big East team.

Whether the Oklahoma game reaches ABC or not, DeAustin indicated that installation of permanent lights makes fiscal sense, since evening telecasts have increased dramatically and the academy has had to pay a $60,000 rental fee for each night game at 40-year-old Falcon Stadium.

Concerning the baseball stadium fund drive, DeAustin said he hoped the 2,500-seat facility would be ready by 2006.

"There's no date set, but it's part of a five-year plan," DeAustin said. "Almost certainly, this would be privately funded. It would be a lot of small donations and maybe a couple of big donations."

The ballpark would be covered with Field Turf, since Air Force traditionally has struggled with bad weather early each baseball season, and include heating coils along with a first-rate drainage system.

Among the other upgrades in the works are a $1.2 million Falcons Nest Lounge in the field house and a $1.5 million Sports Hall of Fame.

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