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McMorran Arena to get new lights; city to save $18K on contract

By Jim Bloch

The arena surface at McMorran Place will soon be illuminated by a new LED full-color lighting system.

In an unusual sequence of the events, the low bidder has dropped out and the second lowest bidder is now able to do the job at a final cost that will save the city $18,000.

At its regular meeting on May 11, the Port Huron City Council voted unanimously to award a $100,000 contract to Clarus Lighting & Control of Madison Heights to install the new lights.

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In a special meeting on July 22, 2019, the council awarded the original lighting contract to LED North American for $118,200.

“We have worked now for almost a year with the original bidder,” explained City Manager James Freed. “The company sold. The new owners are essentially not delivering, refused to deliver — a whole host of issues. They’re just not going to do it. So we went to the second bidder and they actually have better lights, better quality, all the multi-colored light we wanted. But they’re willing to do it $14,000-18,000 cheaper and do it now.”

The new system will be computerized and will allow for multiple color changes in the illumination of the area.

“It will be much more dynamic and energy efficient,” said Freed via email.

That’s important because it will help the arena recoup some of the losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic when it eventually reopens. Freed said.

“So we want to get those lights in and get it done,” Freed said. “It’s cheaper than the original bid, so it’s a win-win and we’re going to be able to get them done as soon as possible.”

McMorran Place Arena now lighted by 50 separate 1000-watt metal halide fixtures.

“Each fixture has a 100-watt ballast which operates the fixture,” explained Freed in his backgrounder on the original bid in 2019. “The current fixtures, when turned off, must cool down before they can be turned back on. The cool down process is about seven-10 minutes. After the cool down process … it takes five-seven minutes to get back to full power in order to have full lighting again. The goal is to switch over to more controllable lighting that is instant on and instant off at any time.”

The new system will be computerized.

“The new lighting would be fully controllable, meaning you could program any of the 50 fixtures to go on and off whenever you would like,” Freed said. “We could run programs that could do lighting effects in either white or a full color spectrum … The new fixtures will only draw a total of 400-watts each and do not need a ballast – a savings of 700-watts each.”

Freed said the old system cost about $45 per hour to operate. The new system will be about a third of that.

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