he last 30 years has seen a large number
of revolutionary changes in the way
sports stadia are designed.
Curved facades and bowled
amphitheaters have all but replaced the
48 www.stadia-magazine.com March 2020 utilitarian squared stands of yesterday, and architects
have a far freer rein in making each venue more
innovative than the last.
As stadia have evolved, so too has sports field
lighting. Few teams still play under halide floodlights,
which were once a common sight installed on poles in
each corner of the field.
Scott Gerard, managing director at ME Engineers,
a company that has been involved in stadia lighting
design solutions since the early 1990s, explains that
field lights are no longer an afterthought.
ME Engineers worked on the architectural lighting
for the enclosed U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as
well as at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Lighting has become part of the overall aesthetics
of the architecture. You don’t want lights on poles in
the corner of the stadium anymore,” he states.
“Lights are not an afterthought anymore, they are
an important part of the stadium, and I really don’t
see this trend changing,” insists Gerard.
But he believes one thing that has changed over
the last five years is a near-total shift from traditional
halide lamps, used for decades in field lighting, to
modern LED systems.
“Firstly, this has been brought about by a reduction in
costs compared to what they were five years ago, they
are very close to being equal with traditional lighting,”
adds James Brunt, director of sports at Midstream
Lighting, which is based in the UK.
“Then you have all the other benefits such as the
low energy consumption, the quality of the light –
the sharpness is better, and they are longer lasting.
“We have also had new regulations for lighting in
the UK. The English Premier League has put out new
lighting requirements and so has the Championship.
The lighting level required now lends itself perfectly
to LED, especially when it comes to slow motion
cameras – they need to be flicker free.”
“Secondly, the control. There’s a lot of razzmatazz
going on, creating lighting effects for better
entertainment and spectator environment,” he says.
In some instances, this shift to LED has been
dramatic, as Jeff Rogers, vice president at Musco
Lighting, an Iowa based company that carries out more
than 3,000 lighting projects a year, explains.
“In 2016 about 30% of what we did was LED. In
2019, it was 92%,” he claims.
“Energy efficiency is part of why LED has driven
a such big market change, and quality of broadcast has
improved in this time too and when TV gets involved
that helps bring change.”
Rogers explains that broadcasters, with their
continuous strides for higher and higher broadcast
definition, have really embraced the new LED
technology, but their interest does add to the
complexity of installing a lighting system.
“LED has some basic core technology that
eliminates flicker, but you still have to have a lighting
designer to ensure the light is applied correctly,” he
says. “This involves a lot of location visits and looking
at the quality of the optics – it is really making sure you
are supplying broadcasters what they need.
“You have to work with the venue and the
broadcasters and the players – you have to put a lot of
light onto their faces, so you need to ensure that it’s not
blinding them. All this has to be worked out and this
invariably means lots of back and forth and trial and
error,” he adds.
Main: New broadcasting
standards are pushing field
lighting technology to new
levels, but much work goes
into fine-tuning the optics
Top left: Energy efficiency is
also a big influence behind the
rise in LED lighting installations
Below: Lighting is part of the
aesthetics at U.S. Bank Stadium