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Let there be light at Pedretti Park
New LED lights expected to save money, bring in more tourneys
Pedretti Park lights
LED stadium lights were installed this week at the Pedretti Sports Complex in Turlock, a project over 10 years in the making. Not only are they brighter than the original metal halide lights installed in 1981, but they are more energy efficient (Photo courtesy of the City of Turlock).

The days of constant light bulb replacements and outages in the middle of baseball and softball games at Pedretti Park are gone for the foreseeable future as the installation of new LED lights at the popular sports complex has been completed.

According to the City of Turlock Public Works Department, the newly installed LED lights at the complex’s baseball diamond and four softball fields are over 50% brighter and 25% more energy efficient. They also have a higher degree of illumination that is directed at the field of play, as compared to the original metal halide lights, which would spill light outside of the fields and onto the streets and surrounding neighborhoods.

“They’re bright. It looks really sharp out there now. It’s been a long time coming,” said Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities supervisor Mark Crivelli, referring to the fact that the project was added to the City’s capital project plan more than a decade ago. “We're excited that it's finally completed and we’re looking forward to people getting to use our facility and hearing what they have to say. It was much needed and we're excited for it.”

The City estimates the saving of tens of thousands per year in electrical charges by making the switch to LED lights. The project is also expected to save the City over $220,000 over the next 10 years due to energy savings, a decreased need for repairs and decreased staff time.

“Every time the fields are used for a game, tournament or practice, the players have more light on the fields while playing, and it costs less money to run them, as well,” the department said in a statement released on social media.

In February 2022, Turlock City Council approved a total of $489,000 for the project, with $150,482 coming from the Turlock Irrigation District’s Empowering our Communities grant program, which was established in 2021 and is made available to organizations in the TID service area to provide financial support for energy efficiency projects benefiting the community, including recreational projects. The rest of the money stemmed from the City’s tourism fund.

The Pedretti complex, named for the late Turlock High baseball coach Atch Pedretti, opened in 1977. Metal halide stadium lights were first installed at each field within the complex in 1981, and had not been upgraded since. Crivelli shared in 2022 that the previously outdated lights at Pedretti were the cause of frequent bulb replacements and wiring system failures. That same year, former Parks director Allison Van Guilder said that outages were happening during tournaments and games, resulting in the complex being deemed unfit for tournament play and jeopardizing the City’s primary source for its Transient Occupancy Tax. Constant repairs were also costing time and money. 

Prior to this week’s installment of the LED lights, the Pedretti Park baseball field continued to host home games for the Turlock Christian baseball program. The softball fields also played host to several travel tournaments and adult softball leagues, as well as Stanislaus State’s annual Tournament of Champions. On average, there are 35 to 40 tournaments taking place at the complex each year.

“I wouldn't say that there was necessarily a tournament drop off because of the old lights,” said Crivelli on Friday. “We did have some outages in the fall when there were high winds pulling on the old wiring and the light poles would go out… I'm sure there were some tournament directors that, when they were looking at our facility when deciding where to play, saw the type of lights we had and were less than impressed.”

The new, brighter and more reliable lights open the door for the complex to welcome more, larger tournaments to come to town.

“That's always a possibility,” Crivelli said. “We could probably do a few more tournaments each year, but the reason that we usually only have about 40 is that we shut the facility down in December and January because of the weather during those months, especially because of the wind that could derail the lights a bit. But we can always take another look because we did get a couple of inquiries about tournaments in January and December. So down the road, I think that's definitely something that we're going to reevaluate. It’s possible for us to keep our options a bit more open.”

The City of Turlock is hoping that more tournaments means more visitors, and that more visitors means more hotels filled, thus boosting the local economy and bringing in more tourism tax money. 

“The Pedretti Sports Complex is a massive economic driver for Turlock,” said City of Turlock economic development director Anthony Sims. “Thirty-five to 40 tournaments each year, that’s a lot of teams. If you add up those roster spots on each team, that is a large [number] of people spending money in Turlock throughout the year…. Teams come for the tournaments, but while they’re here, they visit and shop historic downtown Turlock, Monte Vista Crossings shopping center, as well as enjoy the plethora of diverse restaurants we have within our City.

“This complex continues to provide increased consumer activity for hotels and local businesses in our City,” he continued. “Throughout the year our hotel occupancy rates continue to hold high numbers, which contributes to healthy and consistent transient occupancy tax for the community. Our quarterly sales tax numbers also continue to be positive and increase each reporting period.”

The City of Turlock currently has a 9 percent Transient Occupancy Tax rate. Revenues are allocated to the Fund 110 General Fund (66.67 percent), Fund 120 Tourism (20 percent) and Fund 205 Sports Facilities (13.33 percent). In December, Turlock City Council authorized city staff to begin the process of amending the rate to 14 percent. A ballot measure is required for any amendments, meaning it will be up to voters in November, and likely wouldn’t go into effect until early 2025.

“Pedretti is one of our many assets that draw people to visit and discover our beautiful community,” Sims added. “We are really proud of our facility and are fortunate to have a great team of City staff focused on finding ways to continuously upgrade the facility.”