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Manuka makes light work of twilight project

The Manuka Oval horizon is about to get a new look with the first of six light towers due to go up on Thursday after more than a month of preparation to install the 29-tonne structures.

The light towers and parts of the lighting banks started arriving last month, with much work going into assembling the parts and preparing the ground for installation.

''In each footing there's four 13-metre piles, and then we've had to detail excavate another four metres down, and … you've got your cap on top of those piles,'' said Brendan Read, owner of Affinity Electrical, which is managing the installation.

''That's the footing, like you'd have in any house, but these ones are quite a lot bigger.

''[The towers] are 47 metres high, which is the maximum height we could go to in the parliamentary triangle.''

At the top of each tower will be a bank of 94 lights, with 2000 watts of power per light. That's the equivalent of 1880 household light globes at the top of each of the six towers.


Affinity has laid 700 metres of cables and conduit around the circumference of the oval, with Actew AGL installing two substations to service the lights.

But Cricket ACT is not making any plans for day/night matches to test the lights just yet. With plenty of variables involved in the complex project, there is no firm date for completion.

On Thursday, a 200-tonne crane will lift the first tower into place, but if there is any wind it will be postponed.

Affinity will have about 20 electricians working on the towers in the next three weeks, with the final towers likely to go up in the new year.

The light towers, which Read describes as looking like an ''inverse lacrosse stick'' will tilt in toward the stadium. ''They will be quite striking,'' he said.

The Prime Minister's XI will take on the West Indies on January 29 in the first big game under the new lights. Australia will then host the West Indies in a day/night one-day international on February 6.

Greater Western Sydney will tackle Essendon under lights at Manuka Oval in an AFL pre-season match on March 8.

The Giants will also host St Kilda in a twilight match in the third round of the regular season on April 13.