Sports lighting has come a long way in a short time. Since 2015, close to 25 percent of all major league sports teams have switched from traditional metal halide lighting systems to more adaptable and energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) systems. Teams include Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers and the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings, to name a few.
We talked with Mike Lorenz, president of Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting, about the recent rise in LED systems among major league sports facilities, and why so many teams are taking advantage of this technology.
According to Lorenz, there are three major reasons why state-of-the-art venues are choosing LED systems — to improve TV broadcasting, enhance the fan experience and lower long-term operational costs.
LED lighting and controls improve TV broadcasts.
TV broadcasting has long played a major role in influencing the evolution of lighting. From professional sports leagues to collegiate-level teams, LED systems enhance sports broadcasts by eliminating flickering slow-motion replays, a common issue related to metal halide lighting. In facilities equipped with advanced LED sports lighting, these clips are now 100 percent flicker-free at up to 20,000 frames per second, so fans can catch every second of the replay in full detail.
When playing surfaces are illuminated with LEDs, the images appear brighter and crisper on TV, because LED lighting is able to strike a balance between warm and cool color temperatures. There are virtually no shadows, glares or dark spots, all of which can interrupt a fan’s viewing experience. As a result, the action stays clear and unobstructed. LED systems can also be adjusted to complement the sport or other event in the space, time of day and location for quality broadcasts.
LED systems enhance fans’ in-game experience.
With LED lighting systems, fans enjoy a better experience that not only gives them improved visibility of the game, but also amplifies the crowd’s energy. LEDs feature an instant-on capability, so venues can immediately adjust lighting after halftime shows or between events to set the tone. Imagine your team scoring a touchdown in the last five seconds of the first half; the clock hits zero as the entire stadium lights up in your team’s colors, and everyone in the stands goes wild. Lighting operators are able to customize this moment and bring the team’s identity to life through the use of controllable LED systems. In turn, fans feel as if they are part of the excitement and energy.
As more people get involved in sports and the game continues to evolve, Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting has the capability and operational flexibility to keep up with changing functions and smart technology.
“Customers are realizing that even though there are many players in the lighting industry today, Ephesus is still the first to offer an integrated, intelligent lighting system that adapts to customer needs as they change over time,” Lorenz said.
Facilities can get creative with how they use different lighting colors to accent sports and entertainment events. This technology creates a customized experience, and soon, users will be able to communicate with LED systems through wearable technology and sensing materials.
Advanced lighting systems cost less to operate.
Advancements in lighting technology have also made the operational costs of LEDs more attractive than in prior years and far more affordable than legacy options such as metal halide lighting. Sports facilities with controllable LEDs can save 75 to 85 percent on overall energy costs. Most states also offer energy rebate programs that allow Ephesus customers to receive a rebate of 20 to 25 percent of the total project cost.
So, what is the total project cost? An average arena installation ranges from $125,000 to $400,000, whereas stadium installations range from $800,000 to $2 million depending on facility size, lighting features and installation. With energy savings and lower maintenance costs, facilities normally see a return-on-investment on their LED system in a few years.
Without the high cost barrier of upgrading sports lighting systems, users, owners and operators of major league sports facilities are helping to drive LED adoption rates across the country. Next time you’re in the stands cheering on your favorite team or watching from the comfort of your home, take a second to see how LEDs enhance your game-day experience both in the stadium and on TV.