Imagine it’s the first game of the NFL preseason. As a Minnesota Vikings season ticket holder, you’ve suffered through five long football-less months. The Vikings are facing off against the Rams at home in Minneapolis’s U.S. Bank Stadium, which has a new LED lighting system. Following an interception by defensive tackle Toby Johnson, the Vikings score their first touchdown of the season.
The lights dim, and suddenly a riot of purple and gold erupts as lights flash across the crowd. Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” is pumping through the speakers, and everyone is on their feet. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for all spring and summer.
Advances in the lighting industry are giving sports fans something else to cheer about. Thanks to breakthroughs in LED technology, spectators in the stands and at home can experience the games they love like never before. From the experts at Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting*, here are some of the ways LED lighting is changing the game, providing a unique experience for fans everywhere.
1. Lighting displays that fire up fans
LED lighting offers a more entertaining and visually interesting experience for sports spectators, whether they’re watching live at the game or from the comfort of their couches. College and professional sports fans will go wild when their team’s colors flood the field following a home run or paint the ice after a power play sends the puck soaring into the goal. By using RGB color-changing lights, facility operators can create a light show to accompany a halftime or pre-game performance, highlight a sponsor or call attention to a charitable cause, such as red for American Heart Month. Color-chasing lights are another option that can create excitement for fans by zooming around the stadium perimeter after the home team scores.
2. Flicker-free replays
In sports, replays can capture some of the most dramatic moments of the game. Sports venues with LED lighting give fans the clearest and least distracting replay images, because they reduce what is known as the flicker effect. When that crucial moment is replayed in slow motion, subtle, real-time lighting changes become more pronounced. The split-second changes in lighting levels can cast a flicker or strobing effect over the image. Due to the higher frequency of LED bulbs, fixtures that use them provide a superior replay image compared with traditional metal halide installments. Flicker-free replays allow fans to see slow-motion plays with their favorite players more clearly and avoid missing the biggest moments.
3. Clearer visibility
Advancements in sports LED lighting are illuminating details never seen before by at-home fans. Traditional sports lighting was created with the in-game experience in-mind, and it hasn’t kept up with advances in broadcasting technology. With sales of Ultra HD/4K TVs surging, demand for clearer content is also rising; by the end of 2016, one out of every eight homes in North America is expected to have one. With brighter, clearer lights, viewers at home can see players’ expressions more clearly despite helmets and facemasks. These seemingly small details can create a big emotional connection between athletes and their fans.
LED lighting can also improve the fan experience in an unexpected way — by enhancing athletes’ ability to see. Racecar drivers at Weedsport Speedway, a pioneer in adopting LED lighting, report the uniform lighting and reduced glare provide optimal visibility, allowing them to perform at their best.
4. Fewer delays of game
One attractive feature of sports LED lighting is how quickly lights power up and turn off. By comparison, HID lights are significantly slower and can take minutes to warm up to full brightness — a fact many sports fans learned during a blackout in the New Orleans Superdome when the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers faced off in Super Bowl XLVII. LED lights can dim or turn on or off instantaneously, providing smoother lighting transitions and reducing the risk of delays due to outages. Bottom line: LED lights are reliable. When players and fans are ready, they are, too.
5. No one-size-fits-all approach
In multisport venues, LED technology allows lighting to be tailored to each team. Sophisticated controls allow operators to adjust the temperature and color of lights to match the mood and type of event. This versatility provides a unique experience for fans, allowing them to see their favorite players in their best light. LED lighting systems in arenas also have non-sporting applications: they can set the background for a number of different events, whether college graduations, concerts or other experiences.
*Eaton acquired Ephesus Lighting in late 2015.