The Athens Drive Baseball Stadium Deserves Lights

Daulton Bahm, Sports Editor

Since 1935, many baseball games nationwide have been played at night. Here in 2017, at Athens Drive High School that has still not happened. Athens Drive is one of only a few schools in Wake County to have a baseball stadium lacking lights. Despite the lack of lights for baseball, other sports such as football, soccer and lacrosse have a stadium with lights and get to play at night.

While Athens received major improvements to its athletic facilities this season, the baseball field was denied the installation of lights. Football, soccer and lacrosse all received a brand new state-of-the-art stadium known as “Jaguar Stadium.” A new multipurpose practice field, as well as a volleyball and basketball court was added. However, the project, estimated at a cost of over $6 million, was unable to fund any improvements to Athens Drive’s baseball field – and the field remains in its original condition today with no lights. Therefore, games are forced to be played at 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. – in contrast with the 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. start times of schools that have lights at their baseball fields. This creates several scheduling issues. Early in the season when the sun sets earlier, many games are not able to be completed because it gets dark and there is no field illumination to continue games. If Athens were to play a playoff game, the game would have to start during the daytime hours and could cause schools, especially schools far away from the Raleigh area, to lose educational time because they would have to dismiss early to reach Athens on time.

The installation of lights to Athens’ baseball field would allow games to start at night like most other high schools throughout the state, and would solve the scheduling issues stated above. It would also allow Cary Post 67 Junior Legion baseball, which frequently plays games at Athens Drive during the summer months, to hold doubleheaders without having to start during the heat of the day.

Athens Drive has had a history of success in baseball, making the playoffs most recently in 2016 and for many other seasons since it was established as a school in 1978, in addition to being the school of Major League Baseball (MLB) player Josh Hamilton. With the history of our baseball program’s success as a school over the past several decades, Athens Drive deserves to have lights installed to its baseball fields so the Jaguars have an opportunity to play night games like most other schools in North Carolina. It is unfair that schools such as Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Apex, Green Hope, Middle Creek and Cary get to play baseball games at night, but Athens Drive cannot.