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The business of lighting athletic fields

Any athlete will tell you, there’s something special about playing under the lights. Whether it’s a summer evening Little League game or a Friday night high school football clash, when the lights go on over an athletic field, they bring a little spark of magic.

I&Y Construction in New Enterprise is in the business of making that magic.

1988 graduates of Northern Bedford high school, Matt Snyder and Tink Snider ran into each other at a high school football game in 2004. Matt was a sales representative for Musco Sports Lighting, and Tink was working in construction, specializing in bricklaying and masonry.

Matt recognized the need for experts to install the lights he was selling, and Tink had the skills. Before long, the two, along with their wives, Christine Snyder and Kristen Snider, had formed I&Y Construction (I&Y being the letters distinguishing the families’ two last names.)

“Just through the process of selling lights, I recognized I could do this (installation) myself,” said Matt. “At the same time, I didn’t have the actual hands-on ability, and I needed someone with the expertise. That was Tink. Once we decided, it went very quickly.”

Within a couple of months, they had their first job. Loading up Tink’s pick-up with their tools, and their Dads’ tools, they were on the way to the Hershey Little League fields. Since then, they’ve completed nearly 200 lighting projects throughout Pennsylvania and the surrounding states.

In the early years, they supplemented the lighting work with bleacher installations. But today, they have more than enough lighting projects in community, high school and college fields to keep them busy.

Their work also includes the Juniata College football stadium, as well as lights at Dickinson, Messiah, Mansfield, SUNY and many others. They are especially proud of their projects on the Penn State campus.

“We’ve done Penn State intramural fields, the practice soccer fields, the new lacrosse stadium, the new softball stadium,” said Matt, who enjoys taking the light level tests at the end of each project. Sometimes he even gets to see the families using the lights for the first time.

“Some places make a big to-do of it,” he said. “The kids will all come out, and every team will get to play a first inning under the lightsand it’s a pretty big deal for them.”

For Tink, the job has changed the way he personally watches sports.

“When I go to high school football games around the county, and the first thing that catches my eye is the dark spots here,” he laughs, “or they need new lights there.”

The ongoing project list reveals the demand for sports facilities, and the extra hours of play that lights provide. Loudoun County, Virginia, for example has kept I&Y busy for several years with their county parks for baseball, soccer, tennis and more. The expansive Dick’s Sports Complex in Cranberry Township is another one of their projects, which featured 50 light poles.

“There’s so much need for the fields,” said Tink. “In some places, they may have the lights on for only an hour or two in the evening, but they can give so many more kids a chance to play.”

I&Y Construction has grown into the leading lighting specialist in the Mid-Atlantic region, providing prime-time play for thousands of athletes in Pennsylvania and beyond.

“It’s one thing to say ‘I have a noon game’,” said Matt, “but there’s a pride in hearing kids say ‘I have the 8 o’clock game’it’s prime time.”

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.

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