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Friday, October 20, 2006

Lost in Space

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2006 at 11:47 AM
The Arch looks sweet during day games. At night? Not so much.

The skyline gap in Busch Stadium was -- temporarily -- aglow in fireworks Tuesday night as Albert Pujols and Chris Duncan launched solo home runs to propel the Cardinals to a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the New York Mets.

But soon after the pyrotechnics fizzled and the smoke cleared, the view outside centerfield returned to its familiar state: pitch black. Downtown St. Louis isn't exactly Times Square, but the new ballpark was supposed to provide dramatic views of the city with an emphasis on its star architectural feature, the Gateway Arch. But for the third straight game and before tens of millions of viewers watching the National League Championship Series on television, the city -— and most notably the Arch -- appeared shrouded in darkness. Did someone forget to tell the park rangers at the Arch to flip the switch?

The short answer is, no. Frank Mares, deputy superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, admits that he's received a few complaints about the Arch not being illuminated for the NLCS.

"We programmed the lights to go on a half-hour earlier (at 6:30 p.m.) because of the baseball games, and they're supposed to stay on until midnight," says Mares. "We've checked our equipment and by all indications the lights have been on during the games."

With no immediate explanation, Mares suspects that the problem may lie in geometry. Only two of the Arch's three sides are illuminated. The surface of the Arch that faces north and south are not. Busch Stadium, notes Mares, is approximately a half-mile southwest of the Arch.

"That could be the reason it doesn't appear that bright from the ballpark," he says.

Whatever the case, Mares is determined that the monument shine during the World Series. "I'm having a park ranger walk over there tonight and monitor the lights every hour," he says. "We're going to make sure they work." --Chad Garrison


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