With just a single tap on a screen, Long Beach State head baseball coach Eric Valenzuela illuminated Bohl Diamond at Blair Field, showcasing the latest upgrade to the city’s historic ballpark.
The new LED lights surrounding Blair Field are noticeably brighter than the old set, and will now meet the NCAA standard for hosting regionals and garnering national TV broadcasts. The lights also reach full brightness in a matter of seconds, rather than the 10-15 minute warmup time needed previously.
“It’s a game changer, man. It really is,” said Valenzuela of the new lights. “And it’s not only the field lights, which are unbelievable, it’s the whole project. There’s new lighting all around the outside of the stadium, on the overhangs that’s going to light up the crowd, there’s emergency lights up the stairwells, there’s lights in the dugouts. So it wasn’t just the lighting of the stadium, it was everything. The entire outside portion of Bohl Diamond at Blair Field is lit. It’s brighter, it’s nicer, it’s a much better fan experience. I love it.”
The lighting is the latest component in a gradual overhaul of Blair Field, which started back in 2016 with the new outfield fence. Over the past six years, the facility has also been upgraded with a new batting facility, two new bullpens, and improvements to the home locker room. LBSU’s Executive Director of Athletics Andy Fee indicated that the new lights are just the first in a series of improvements to the ballpark planned for the next two years.
The renovations were made possible by a considerable donation from longtime supporter Marilyn Bohl–whose name now adorns the facility–and she was among the select group that got to witness the unveiling of the new lights.
“It’s like daylight,” said Bohl. “It’s so uniform over the whole field. I walked out to second base so I could look everywhere on the field, and the lights are positioned and tuned so well to get them exactly how they want them. It’s amazing.”
Valenzuela also credited CSULB President Jane Close Conoley for her support in moving the project forward. Conoley was among the distinguished guests on hand for the debut of the new lights, along with longtime donors Mike & Arline Walter, and key athletic department staff.
The lights also provide opportunities to enhance the gameday experience, with the ability to flash on and off in preset patterns to celebrate home runs or other important moments. Fans will also notice a brand new speaker system and the addition of an organ inside the ballpark.
Valenzuela confirmed that renowned organist Dieter Ruehle would be playing at every Dirtbags home game this season. Reuhle has over 30 years of experience as the full-time stadium organist for a number of professional teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Dodgers and Kings.
The new lighting will make a noticeable difference not only at Dirtbags games, but also for the Moore League teams who play at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field throughout the spring. According to Bohl, that is an important factor in her investment in the project, improving the playing experience for every ballplayer in the city.
“I really want Blair Field to bring the university and the city closer together,” Bohl explained. “I’ve said from the beginning that it can be something to help more people become aware of the university. And I want the team to get back to where it was when Jered Weaver was the Friday night guy and Blair Field was the place to be.”