Arnold light-years away

LM has long dreamed of a chance to play and watch night games. However, will lights actually be installed?

As the sun begins to set, practices at Arnold Field must wrap up due to the lack of light. | Photo Courtesy of Michelle Kelly ’23/Staff

Last year, spectators at sports games were one of the last things on everybody’s mind. However, with the fall sports season in full swing and fans being allowed back into the stands, a familiar debate is reappearing: the lights on Arnold Field. These lights would not only allow the school district to implement the later start times, but would also have a huge impact on the LM athletic program.  With the installation of lights, LM will have the ability to host night games and have later practices. These night games could provide a big boost in school spirit, especially after a year in which spectators were discouraged from attending games. However, the installation of lights on Arnold Field is not as popular in the surrounding area. 

Currently, it’s impossible to drive near the school for very long without seeing signs opposing the lights. Covering the lawns and sidewalks in the neighborhoods surrounding LM, the signs make it abundantly clear that many residents in the area are not in favor of installing lights on Arnold Field. They fear that night games will lead to crowds of loud students strolling through their streets late at night. In a testimony to the zoning board, Phil Rosenzweig, the attorney representing the Wynnewood Civic Association, claimed that building light towers by the turf would “obliterate the quality of life for all homes that back onto Arnold Field.” Other detractors of the construction worry about light pollution or even claim that the money would be better spent on other areas.

Regardless of the complaints, many people are still in favor of the proposed lighting. An online petition in favor of constructing lights on Arnold Field has garnered over 600 signatures, most of which are from LM students. These people believe that hosting the occasional rivalry or playoff game would go a long way in increasing school spirit and a sense of community amongst students. The lights would also allow more flexibility in scheduling games and practices. As the football, field hockey, and soccer teams enter the most crucial stretches of their seasons, the sun begins setting earlier and earlier. Ben Cromer ’24, a member of the boy’s soccer team, believes that being able to practice on the turf without racing the sun would “allow us to get better prepared for stronger opponents and playoffs.”

Despite these positives, the proposal to construct lights on Arnold Field recently suffered a major setback. On September 16th, LMSD announced that, “the Township’s Zoning Hearing Board overruled the sound determinations of its own Zoning Officer with regard to the District’s proposed installation of athletic field lighting at Lower Merion High School’s Arnold Field.” With the pressing issue of implementing later start times and the myriad of benefits they would provide to the athletic programs, it is still very possible that lights will eventually be built. Until then, those hoping to attend an adrenalating night game at Arnold Field will just have to wait.