Why Detroit Tigers are removing Comerica Park’s old lights for 2023

Detroit Free Press

A helicopter circled Comerica Park on Monday morning.

Within three hours, the original light fixtures on the 16 towers at Comerica Park were removed. In February, the Detroit Tigers will install 472 new LED light fixtures. The goal is to provide a crisper viewing experience for fans at the ballpark and at home watching the TV broadcast.

The Tigers declined to disclose the cost of the project.

“The opportunity was there to get it done,” Tigers vice president of ballpark operations Chris Lawrence said Monday. “The backbones of this have been here since (Comerica Park opened in 2000), and obviously, technology has changed. It’s a more modern look and feel, literally the fixture but also the light level that it produces and the consistency.”

The project is being conducted by Musco Sports Lighting, and the lights will be installed by Detroit-based Bayview Electric Company. The Tigers’ home opener is scheduled for April 6 against the Boston Red Sox.

The old lights used to take several minutes to turn on. The new lights, however, will turn on and off instantaneously. The Tigers will use them for in-game light shows after hitting home runs and before a relief pitcher enters in a high-leverage situation.

Lawrence said the new lights are environmentally friendly.

“It’s pretty considerable,” Lawrence said when asked about energy conservation. “I don’t know if I want to put a percentage on it right now. You never truly know, but double-digit (savings), which is not insignificant. Being able to take advantage of that was an ancillary benefit to this.”

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The Seattle Mariners became the first MLB team to install LED lights, doing so in 2015 at Safeco Field (now T-Mobile Park). Several teams, including the Tigers, are upgrading their lights this offseason. The Chicago Cubs installed their new LED lights at Wrigley Field in early November.

“They’ll go through probably two-to-three weeks of commissioning,” Lawrence said. “I’m sure they’ll fire them up here and there. They’ll do testing on the field. … The fan experience stuff is what we’re working on right now. Our game presentation group is looking at some of those other parks.”

This project is the first recent major upgrade to Comerica Park. The Tigers are discussing the outfield fences and could move them in before the 2023 season, but president of baseball operations Scott Harris said at the winter meetings a decision has not been made.

“There’s a lot of stuff always floating around,” Lawrence said. “Most of it is standard tweaks here and there to certain things to enhance the player and fan experience. I’m sure there might be some more things that get floated out in the next few months, but right now, this is enough to keep us busy.”

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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