Marco Crane and Rigging used its Grove GMK7550 all terrain crane for the project at Petco Field.

Marco Crane and Rigging used its Grove GMK7550 all terrain crane for the project at Petco Field.

In preparation for the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the San Diego Padres ownership planned to upgrade the field lighting at Petco Park from Metal Halide to LED. Musco Lighting created a design that would replace 819 Metal Halide light fixtures with 476 LED fixtures. This reduced the wattage used from approximately 1,100,000 to 770,000, a 42 percent reduction in energy consumption that was projected to save more than 250,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

San Diego-based electrical contractor Dynalectric was awarded the contract to perform the design improvements. Marco Crane and Rigging’s San Diego branch was contracted to perform all the lifting activities for the project.The timeframe for the upgrade was condensed because of the facility’s usage. Work could not begin until Winter Wonderland at Petco, a holiday event on the playing field, was concluded on Christmas Day in 2015. The lighting enhancement had to be complete by the AMA Monster Energy Supercross event on January 16, 2016. The fast-paced work schedule was to begin on December 26 and end January 10, with each workday a 12-hour shift.

The first part of the plan was to bring in 120, 8 by 20 foot by 1 inch steel trench cover plates, each weighing 6,500 pounds. These plates were brought in from all over the southwestern United States.

Two Extreme Manufacturing XR1045 telehandlers moved the plates from the street through a tunnel, one by one, and placed them to create a roadway and work area on the playing field. No equipment tires were permitted to touch the playing surface. It took two days to create the working platform to assemble the crane and start the process.

Tight squeeze

Marco Crane and Rigging used its Grove GMK7550 all terrain crane for the project. It was rigged with 197 feet of main boom, 118 feet of fixed jib and 220,400 pounds of counterweight.

The crane was carefully backed through the tunnel with literally an inch of clearance above and little more on the sides. With such tight tolerances, the crane was able to reach across the entire street and into an adjacent driveway across when being lined up for the pass through the tunnel.

After the crane was assembled, hoisting activities started on the third-base side of the field and continued counterclockwise around the stadium to complete the work. After the crane moved from the assembly area onto the road, the telehandlers began to dissemble the road behind the crane and reassemble it in front of the crane. This procedure would continue around the stadium until reaching the work area at the end of the tunnel.

The GMK 7550 filled the requirements of height, distance and load weight. Both the old and new light fixtures were attached to a prewired rack system that was bolted to the steel framework of the nine light towers.

The lift weights on the old lights were originally estimated to weigh between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds, but they actually weighed closer to 12,000 pounds. These weights were at a working radius up to 175 feet and at heights up to 220 feet. Calculations indicated the weight of the new lights at 10,500 pounds.

While one crew prepared the removal of the light rack from the tower, another group was building the new rack on the ground. The old unit would be lowered and the new rack would be flown up to replace it.

The demolished assembly was stripped of the light fixtures, cut up and taken to a local scrap yard. The old light fixtures were removed off-site for recycling. When completed, this project generated very little landfill waste; remaining components from both old and new were recycled or sent to a proper disposal facility.

Towards the end of the first week of the project, a severe winter storm (severe by San Diego standards) was forecast for the following week. The more than 400,000 pounds of crane could not be left on the field during any amount of rain.

The crane’s ground pressure on the field had always been a serious concern with possible damage to the grass and buried irrigation systems. The decision was made to work through New Year’s weekend to eliminate the need to demobilize and remobilize the crane. The entire task was completed in eight days, six days ahead of schedule. The crane could be removed before what turned out to be the worst storm of San Diego’s brief rainy season last winter.

The new LED lights have been received well by baseball players who experience reduced glare and the time tracking fly balls in the outfield. The media like them because there is no flickering in slow motion replays and more consistent light. And neighboring communities like them because there is less light spillage to surrounding residential high-rise buildings and Petco Park itself. The new LED fixtures provide the capability of creating and applying special effects to improve lighting options, as well.

Planning for cranes

Marco Crane & Rigging Vice President Sam Meyer said the project had some particular challenges.

“One challenge was that the weights changed towards the end which pushed us to use the Grove GMK 7550,” he said. “And then there was the tunnel. It was tight all the way. It was just by inches that we got the crane through it. We had to remove one security camera.”

And this brings up another good point he said.

“As more ball parks are built in downtown areas, the owners need to consider the future aspects and needs of these venues,” he said. “They are being used for rock and roll concerts, monster truck rallies and other events that need crane services for set up. They need to plan for big cranes to get into these parks. We now know that the largest hydraulic mobile crane in San Diego will fit into that ball park.”

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