Towers to shine a light unto darkness over Manuka

The newly-installed light towers at Manuka Oval.
The newly-installed light towers at Manuka Oval.
The lights have received mixed reviews.

The lights have received mixed reviews.

The Canberra sky will burst to life tonight when the Manuka Oval lights are turned on for the first time.

After months of construction and testing, officials will flick the switch for the six light towers which signal the start of a new sporting era in the capital.

The lights transform Manuka Oval from a boutique venue to one capable of hosting international cricket fixtures and night-time AFL matches.

The lights have received mixed reviews since the the 47-metre high towers were put in place earlier this month.

While Ian Warden recently hailed them the "jewellery of a grown-up city", conjuring images of dandelions and lingerie, letter writers in to The Canberra Times have not been so kind, describing them as fly swatters, War of the World-sque props, and a "monstrous blight" on the city's streetscape.

Public opinion aside, the lights will be turned on at 5.30pm this evening to give them time to warm up before they illuminate the ground when the sun goes down.

Organisers are finalising preparations for the Prime Minister's XI clash against the West Indies on Tuesday - the first day-night match in Canberra's history.

Installing lights was also the key to luring the Australian cricket team to Canberra for the first time on February 8 to celebrate the capital's centenary.

The $5.347 million project was jointly funded by the ACT government ($2.847 million) and the federal government ($2.5 million).

The lights have been periodically tested over the past two weeks, but officials had to wait for a maintenance part and for ActewAGL to sign off on paperwork before turning all six towers on at the same time.

Each tower contains four different types of light - wide, medium, narrow and extra-narrow - which are fanned out to ensure an equal coverage on the playing surface.

Design criteria was set by the National Capital Authority to ensure the lights blended into the inner-south suburb.

Black louvres are installed on each light to prevent spill outside the ground, reducing the impact on residents nearby.

The AFL will also play nights games in Canberra for the first time this year, with the GWS Giants to take on St Kilda in a twilight fixture on April 13.

What do you think of the new Manuka Oval lights? Leave your comment below.

This story Towers to shine a light unto darkness over Manuka first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.