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Manuka enters its age of enlightenment

ACT Comets batsman Aaron Ayre,20 of Turner and wicket keeper, Beau McClintock,19 of Harrison under the new light at Manuka oval that were turned on for the first time.

ACT Comets batsman Aaron Ayre,20 of Turner and wicket keeper, Beau McClintock,19 of Harrison under the new light at Manuka oval that were turned on for the first time. Photo: Melissa Adams

Love it or loathe it, Manuka Oval is up in lights.

The 47-metre high light towers were switched on for the first time on Wednesday evening, following months of hard work from crew and heated debate among Canberrans.

The six towers were put in place earlier this month and have since been described as a "monstrous blight" and "giant fly swats", alongside the more complimentary "jewellery of a grown up city".

 

 

Call them what you will, project manager Dean Hargreaves said he was happy simply to have the months of construction complete.

"It's been a long job," he said.

"The biggest challenge we've had is getting stuff over here."

Mr Hargreaves said the parts for the $5.347 million project were manufactured in Britain and had to be shipped over.

"We did have to fly some of the head frames and the critical parts," he said.

"It's a relief to see them on."

Each tower contains four different types of light - wide, medium, narrow and extra-narrow - and black louvres have been installed to reduce the impact on nearby residents. Mr Hargreaves said he would be among the crowd for the lights' first proper debut on Tuesday, as the Prime Minister's XI takes on the West Indies in the first day-night match in Canberra's history.

The oval, now capable of hosting international cricket fixtures and night-time AFL matches, will bring a lot more tourism into the city according to Cricket ACT chairman Ian McNamee.

Mr McNamee said the tens of thousands of cricket fans spread throughout the region could now remain in the capital to enjoy the sport, instead of heading interstate.

"Manuka Oval is now qualified as a Big Bash league venue," he said.

"We'll be looking at getting games played here …Without lights, that would not be possible."

The project was jointly funded by the ACT and federal governments, contributing $2.847 million and $2.5 million respectively.

The new lighting also allows the AFL to play nights games, with the GWS Giants to take on St Kilda in a twilight fixture on April 13.

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