Mercedes-Benz Stadium Using LED Lighting to Create “Big Game” Atmosphere
As teams and venue operators look to “bring more fans out to the games and then keep them engaged and entertained” once they arrive, state-of-the-art sports lighting has taken on a more prominent role in game (and broadcast) presentation. Those providing fans with a 1st class experience have transitioned from the old metal halide bulbs – standard for over 50 years – to LED lighting fixtures capable of creating atmosphere, dynamic light shows and special effects. Super Bowl 53 will be the third “Big Game” lit with Eaton’s Ephesus’ LED Sports Lighting system since 2015. JohnWallStreeet had the chance to connect with the company’s Director of Business Development, Mike Quijano, to discuss sports lighting trends, additional use cases for the technology and to find out what kind of impact the power outage at the ’13 Super Bowl had on venue operators.
Howie Long-Short: Venues have been using LED lighting to enhance player introductions and halftime shows. What’s the next trend in sports lighting as it relates to improving the fan experience?
Mike: Lighting fixtures are becoming part of the fan experience. Venues have digital scoreboards, ribbon boards, and now LED lighting, which resides physically above all of that, as tools to entertain fans. I caught a game at Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning recently and during the national anthem, they have the ability to project red, white and blue light from our fixtures in the rafters onto the ice surface. In the past, venues would need a separate lighting system for this type of functionality, while the Lumadapt system has color functionality in the same fixtures that generate white light.
Are there any other use cases for LED lighting technology?
Mike: Sure, it’s used to set the scene for “special nights” or promotions. For example, on “hockey fights cancer” night Bridgestone Arena in Nashville turns the whole venue pink. They also use it to light the outside of the venue to promote events – for example they turned the outside lights pink when the artist Pink came through town to notify the public the artist was playing; they’re able to monetize it. NYCB Live (aka the Nassau Coliseum) which installed our new Lumadapt sports lighting system in December is now intrigued with the idea of adding our exterior lighting to let those in the community – driving by on Hempstead Turnpike – know when the team scores a goal; one of the coolest things we’ve seen is the Minnesota Vikings choreographed a light show at U.S. Bank Stadium to the tune of the rock Christmas song God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen which they shared via numerous social media platforms.
Teams are installing these robust lighting systems (cost: $600K+) for fan-experience purposes, but the operational and energy efficiency provided (saves 70%) is also appreciated by venue operators (see: pays for itself within 2-3 years). Did the power outage at the 2013 Super Bowl motivate the industry to upgrade its lighting technology?
Mike: It made the adoption of LED happen faster. At the time, we were focused solely on indoor venues. When we saw that happen, we set out to develop a solution specific for stadium applications to ensure it never did again. One year later we installed our lights at the University of Phoenix Stadium (Super Bowl 49) and we’ve been installing them at stadiums, arenas and race tracks across the country since.
Which sports/leagues have best addressed the in-venue fan experience?
Mike: The NBA and NHL teams that play in arenas are the most advanced just because they’re set up to be more dynamic. They’re really figuring out how to maximize the capabilities of our system with all the various acts that come through. When you look at outdoor stadiums, it’s been more limited from a usage standpoint. Later this year we’re going to introduce a solution to the market that brings what we’ve done indoors to the outdoor stadiums. So, part of the reason NFL and MLB teams lag behind is the LED lighting solutions currently available don’t have the same capabilities as the indoor solutions.
Fan Marino: Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi will have a couple of more minutes to perform on America’s biggest stage than halftime acts at the first 48 Super Bowls enjoyed because Mercedes-Benz Stadium invested in Ephesus’ adaptive LED lighting system. Historically, performers would need to allocate time to set-up/break-down the on-field lighting systems needed to create the special effects desired for their show (and to turn the stadium’s sports lighting on/off), but with Esphesus’ system capable of being incorporated into an act (see: Super Bowl 49 halftime show) venue operators can minimize on down time.
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