|Thursday, July 19
Electricians work through Thursday's games, fix lights
SAN DIEGO -- Qualcomm Stadium's big bangs weren't as bad as originally feared, and the San Diego Padres will have their lights back Friday night.
Two explosions in the light tower above left field in the 34-year-old stadium on Wednesday night darkened a bank of lights and forced the suspension of San Diego's game against Arizona.
Stadium manager Bill Wilson originally thought a 12,000-volt transformer had blown, which would have been bad news for the Padres and the city of San Diego. It could have taken more than a week to replace and would have forced the Padres to play day games Friday and Saturday instead of at night, when they draw bigger crowds.
But it turned out that a circuit breaker absorbed a short and saved the transformer. Electricians worked through the resumed game and Thursday's regularly scheduled game -- which the teams split -- and had the lights back on by Thursday evening.
"We have 12,000 volts, the fuses are holding up and we're on for 7:05 Friday night," Wilson said.
Repairs are expected to cost the city $50,000, said Wilson, who added that the explosions had nothing to do with California's power crisis. Replacing a blown transformer would have added about $200,000 to the bill and required a crane to lift out the old one and put in a new one.
While confident that the lights will hold for games against Milwaukee Friday and Saturday nights, Wilson said putting new wiring into an old system sometimes stresses the old system. Plans are to replace the wiring in that bank, which accounts for about one-fifth of the stadium's lights, when the Padres are on the road next week.
Wilson said the first explosion was in an electrical bus, which carries large copper wires, and the second was the circuit breaker.
No fans were sitting under that portion of the concrete light ring. Had there been fans in those seats, Wilson doubted they would have been injured. The top row of the upper deck is about 40 feet below the lights.
The explosions, which echoed across the stadium, startled Padres left fielder Mike Darr.
"I was amused at how fast and far Darr jumped," Padres closer Trevor Hoffman said.
The Padres say they've sold more than 20,000 tickets for Friday night's game and more than 30,000 for Saturday night.