The Braves are holding spring training for the first time this year at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla.
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

‘It really is dark out there’: Lights are an issue at Braves’ new spring stadium

It was obvious to many in attendance, including the players on the field, that the lights were not adequately illuminating the field at CoolToday Park.

“It really is dark out there,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “We’ll see what we can do about that going forward.”

Pitcher Sean Newcomb, who started the game for the Braves, concurred.

“I couldn’t see the (catcher’s) signs,” Newcomb said. “It seemed like it was dimmed down for sure.”

Asked if he had previously played a game in such lighting conditions, Newcomb said: “Not since probably low-A (in the minor leagues).”

At Monday night’s game, all of CoolToday Park’s lights were on, but they were dim and not all were angled toward the field.

The Braves on Tuesday attributed the problem to a “computer glitch.” According to the team, the computer showed that the lights were at 100% brightness Monday night while in fact they were at 60%.

The problem couldn’t be addressed during the game, the Braves said, because that would have required shutting the lighting system down entirely.  The computer issue was resolved by the stadium’s lighting contractor by Tuesday morning, the Braves maintained.

The team didn’t immediately address questions about the positioning of the lights.

“First year of the stadium, so there are going to be things that  aren’t going to go smoothly,” Freeman said Monday. “Live and learn, so maybe we get some more lights out there.”

“It seemed dark, a little bit dark, to me, also,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I guess we’ll look at it and see.”

A reporter mentioned to Snitker that some of the lights were pointed down, rather than toward the field.

“That’s what I wondered, how that works,” Snitker said. “A lot of the guys were commenting on it. Even in the outfield, they said it was hard to see the ball.”

The Phillies also commented on the issue.

“I’ve seen better lighting in the woods with a flashlight that didn’t have batteries,” outfielder Nick Williams told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I think it’s pretty typical for A-ball lights,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “Right? I don’t know.”

Freeman said he didn’t believe the issue rose to the level of being a safety concern for the players on the field. 

 “No, we’re good,” he said. “Just need more lights.”

This is the Braves’ first year holding spring training at their $139 million complex in North Port. The next night game at CoolToday Park is on March 9 against the Boston Red Sox. 

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