LED Lighting Shows Sports Venues a Better Way to Play Ball

The next time you’re taking your seventh inning stretch take a glance at the bright lights making the game possible. Considering how essential good lighting is for athletes and officials it’s surprising that sports venues are among the last to embrace LED lighting technology. Recent studies have shown that stadiums that switch to LED fixtures are more efficient and provide superior illumination for fans, athletes and officials for an overall better experience.

The addition of LED lighting systems in stadiums provides several advantages over traditional metal halide and sodium vapor fixtures. Most importantly, LED lights are more energy efficient, have a longer burn time, and are brighter than traditional lights. They also use less energy, and cost less to maintain which means immediate improvement in lighting performance, and lower maintenance costs.

Stadiums that have installed LED fixtures generally use them to illuminate the playing surface and provide lighting in the seating areas. Control systems are put into place allowing operators to switch or dim each floodlight individually. With the increase in lighting control, creating special effects during player introductions, pre/post show events, or enhancing the game day presentation is easy. Many stadium designers and other corporate brands have realized that this can create a colorful, highly engaging audience experience.

Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, is the first Major League Baseball stadium to make the switch from 579 metal halide lights to 578 LED fixtures. In the NFL world, Super Bowl XLIX, at the University of Phoenix Stadium, was the first ever Super Bowl to be played under LED lights. These changes are expected to drastically reduce energy usage by up to 75%, allow for flicker-free slow-motion replays and make the field brighter with a more uniform coverage and fewer shadows.

In the past, halide and sodium vapor lights would need time to reach maximum brightness. LED lighting systems do not need to “warm up” and can be switched on to maximum brightness almost immediately. After the infamous blackout of the 2013 Super Bowl, this is sure to put anxious football fans at ease. After the game, once the lights are no longer needed, LED systems can just as easily be switched off, making them much easier to operate and very user friendly.

Through Nike’s “Rise” campaign, a basketball stadium in China was completely remodeled with new LED special effects, more fully integrated within the stadium playing surface. Nike Rise installed in-floor LED lights that are player responsive, meaning that they light up or have a certain effect depending upon the player’s position and movements on the court. The visual effect is very reminiscent of video game effects which are not only highly entertaining, but will be highly useful when training players. The Nike Rise campaign has taken LED lighting to a whole new level and will surely continue to have an impact on the role of LED lighting effects in sports venues from now on.

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