By Anastasia Millicker
Red Bank Regional football field is left in the dark come nightfall but the Red Bank Regional High School Buccaneer Athletic Foundation wants to light up the field with their Let There Be Lights campaign.
The campaign, which aims to raise $300,000, looks to put four light towers about 60 feet tall with two additional practice lights on the Red Bank Regional High School football field. The lights would not only be used for evening football games and practices but also for soccer, boys and girls lacrosse and field hockey.
“The field is not being used to its full capacity right now,” said RBR Athletic Director Del Dal Pra.
Dal Pra said RBR is one of a handful of Monmouth County schools that do not have lights or turf on their football field but the Buccaneer Athletic Foundation is looking to change that. “It’s one step at a time,” he said. The lights would be the first priority.
The Red Bank Regional Athletic Foundation will host a kickoff reception at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, for area businesses and friends of RBR. Council members are also invited to come and listen to why the lights are necessary for the field. The event will be held in the main lobby of the Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Ave., Red Bank. Mike Rice, Rutgers University’s men’s head basketball coach will be the featured guest speaker. “Mike Rice lives in the district and he understands the importance of community and impact of it for kids,” said Kathy Reardon, the foundation’s chair.
People who wish to contribute but cannot attend can send monetary donations to the RBR Buccaneer Athletic Foundation at P.O. Box 51, Little Silver, NJ, 07739.
Dal Pra said the lights would help improve the performance of all teams that use the fields by providing them with extra practice time.
“In October, if it gets dark at 4:30 p.m., the team has to end while their opponents flip the switch and get to practice until 6 p.m.,” he said.
The lights would not only provide the teams with additional practice time but would provide parents with an additional opportunity to see their kids play, Dal Pra said. Currently the football team has its home games at noon on Saturdays while their opponents have games at 7 p.m. Friday nights, he said.
During the past fall season the teams used 30-foot practice lights, which were rented for one night football game or the team hosted games for a fee at the Red Bank Count Basie field, Dal Pra said.
The lights also will promote community, Reardon said. “More people attend night games,” she said. “Plus more parents could see their kids play.”
Del Pra said the stadium could also create more revenue with lights from funds raised through admission fees. Those fees would go toward future projects, including the turf and weight room.
The school is in need of an upgraded weight room, he said. Currently the weight room does not have any aerobics equipment but this project is on hold until the lights campaign is completed.
The Red Bank Regional High School Buccaneer Athletic Foundation started its campaign at the beginning of the fall 2011 school year. As to date the foundation has raised more than $30,000, Dal Pra said.
The foundation also was chosen to be the recipient of donations from the International Flavour Festival in Red Bank earlier this month. About 90 people from the organization volunteered their time and talents at the festival.
The foundation has also looked into applying for grants to help fund the lighting project but did not qualify for most of them, Reardon said.
“Athletics supplements academics,” Reardon said. “Kids need academics but others need some athletics along with academics to make their school experience.”