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Ballpark's state-of-the-art lighting foiled by a coil suffering from burn-out


Cal Ripken's batting slump and Brady Anderson's sideburns, the Maryland Stadium Authority can't do much about.

But the Camden Yards landlord is on the hook when the high-intensity lights at the new ballpark suddenly dim, as they did Tuesday night. Authority officials spent yesterday trying to figure out why the lights malfunctioned and then fixing them for last night's Orioles-Oakland Athletics game, which had no problems.

In the end, stadium officials blamed the dim-out on a defective electrical coil that burned out.

A replacement part was expected to be installed today. For last night's game, electricians turned on the lights from the ballpark's main power source in the basement. Usually, the lights are switched on from a control panel in the press box.

"It's just like when you buy any piece of equipment -- there's a chance one will fail. [Tuesday] night, one did," stadium authority executive director Bruce Hoffman said.

Tuesday night's outage was the first serious glitch in the ballpark's state-of-the-art lighting system.

Lights in a standard above the first-base grandstand failed beforethe game. An additional set of lights in the tower went out during the bottom of the third inning, and play was suspended for about 20 minutes. Play was resumed after about two-thirds of the lights went back on.

Orioles officials say the delay could have been avoided if the ballpark had been outfitted with special light fixtures that restrike immediately in case of an electrical outage.

"We were strong in our desire to have it," Orioles spokesman Rick Vaughn said. "We felt it was important for the reason you saw [Tuesday] night."

Hoffman acknowledged that the Orioles asked for "instant restrike" lights, but said the special fixtures would have added about $500,000 to the cost of the ballpark. "We didn't have that in our budget, and we didn't want to run over," he said.

Oriole Park is equipped with fast-starting house lights, which would help fans get out of the ballpark in case of a total power outage.

In all, four light standards ring the stadium, including one attached to the roof of the B&O; warehouse. The defective part was under warranty and will be replaced by the manufacturer, said Norman Pitsenbarger, senior project manager for Dynalectric, lighting contractors at the ballpark.

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