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Sports lighting: Light up

Lighting can play a big part in improving the fan experience during sports events. Signify’s Andy Gowen explains innovative ways in which stadiums can dazzle spectators and keep them coming back for more

Published in Sports Management 2019 issue 2
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Lighting can transform a sports stadium into an immersive experience for fans / © shutterstock/cristiano barni
Lighting can transform a sports stadium into an immersive experience for fans/ © shutterstock/cristiano barni

Broadcasters and sport governing bodies have defined standards for lighting that enable TV cameras to capture flicker-free, super slow-motion action replays and help players to deliver a peak performance – but is compliance all that stadium operators should be aiming for?

The latest standards are easily met with high quality LED lighting – excellent colour rendering and uniformity ensures maximum performance and helps broadcasters catch every bead of sweat and strained sinew in glorious 4K ultra-high definition. But upgrading to LED lighting can enable so much more than just a clearer view of the action for spectators and broadcasters.

Recognising this can be the difference between lighting that’s simply compliant and that which creates a truly engaging fan experience.

Connected lighting
Incorporating smart, LED pitch lighting into a stadium-wide connected lighting system with remote management capabilities unlocks new ways to engage fans from the moment they arrive. A stadium-wide lighting system can power everything from pre-programmed light scene settings that change instantly with the touch of a button, to architectural lighting that enhances the atmosphere and attracts visitors, helping to generate revenue.

Such unforgettable fan experiences start with lighting systems that go beyond just lighting, but which also offer connectivity and support Internet of Things (IoT) deployments. Combining lighting systems with the IoT contributes to data collection and exchange, and helps to better manage stadiums and complementary systems, in order to create novel encounters for fans. It empowers stadium lighting to deliver end-to-end, integrated experiences from entry to exit and allows lighting to easily be upgraded to a lighting bowl system, which makes every event memorable by offering dynamic light shows, synchronised with music and video to create an immersive arena experience.

Whereas coordinating a light show (or even simply having different lighting profiles for different sports or leagues) would historically have increased complexity, connected lighting management software simplifies this and delivers the best fan experience. Furthermore, enhanced control and data collection facilitates smoother operations and improved safety – in effect, the lighting becomes the smart backbone of the stadium, bringing the power of the IoT to bear.

From safety to entertainment
State-of-the-art stadium lighting saves money, improves safety and creates excitement, even before guests enter the venue. Bright, energy-saving LED illumination can make fans feel secure in parking areas and guide them safely from the subway to the arena. LED façade lighting can also inspire them from afar, turning the venue into a landmark.

Many venues and clubs have already realised the value of impressive stadium lighting, with top clubs competing to produce the most spectacular shows. These sophisticated multimedia spectacles turn the stadium into a backdrop for a highly choreographed piece of entertainment.

By adding entertainment lighting to high quality pitch lighting, light can be used to isolate different parts of the pitch, so when the team comes out, the players are bathed in a corridor of light. Even pitch-side advertising screens and large displays featuring team colours and bespoke images can be incorporated and synced to music, while steerable spotlights, such as those used at rock concerts, add to the excitement.

We regularly see videos of these light shows going viral and being shared by fans all over the world. At the venue, a 90-minute experience becomes an afternoon out, with fans happy to spend longer in the stadium being entertained and experiencing everything the venue has to offer. The spectacle, when shared online, encourages more fans to visit in the future.

Visitor engagement
It’s difficult to overstate just how much of a role lighting can have in impacting the amount of time fans spend at stadiums, both pre-and post-event. It can even attract visitors toward retail stores. It’s no wonder that lighting and light shows are quickly becoming the defining experience at many stadiums around the world.

The stadiums lighting the way
Optus Stadium - Perth, Australia

As a new, purpose-built sports venue, Optus Stadium wanted to ensure it installed the very latest lighting technology to create the best possible fan experience. The stadium chose to install IoT-ready connected LED lighting to support its mission to become the premier, multi-purpose venue in the Southern Hemisphere. The installation represents the largest LED stadium lighting system of its type in Australia.

“The community has been absolutely blown away by what a fantastic facility has actually been created here in Perth,” says Ronnie Hurst, project director at the Department of Sport and Recreation. “And the ability to light up the stadium with your team colours on a game day is magnificent.”

Allianz Stadium - Turin, Italy

Allianz Stadium is a category 4 UEFA stadium and the home of Serie A champions, Juventus Football Club. Italy’s first barrier-free stadium, it seats 41,500 spectators in stands just 7.5 meters from the pitch..

Juventus Football Club was interested in improving the overall fan experience at the stadium, while ensuring compliance with strict broadcast regulations and compatibility with sport governing body guidelines..

The new arena lighting experience consists of two building blocks: bowl lighting and hospitality area lighting..

Bowl lighting is controlled by an Interact Sports touch panel, making it easy to control vibrant new entertainment shows and synchronise them with music, graphics and video. Allianz Stadium now makes use of this, not only during football matches, but also before and after, to extend the game day experience and increase engagement with fans..

“We can now offer the ultimate Juventus experience, enhanced with light shows, graphics and videos that make each event different and more memorable than the one before,” says Juventus’ head of events, Alberto Pairetto..

Allianz Stadium can now offer light shows with synchronised music
Wanda Metropolitano Stadium - Madrid, Spain

Wanda Metropolitano is the first 100 per cent LED lighting stadium installation in the world. Connected LED lighting and software offer unique opportunities for synchronisation and integration of different stadium systems. Atlético de Madrid wanted to create an immersive stadium experience that starts from the moment people enter the parking lot and lasts until the moment they leave.

The stadium has one-touch control of the fully connected and integrated LED lighting for the entire stadium, including façade, pitch, hospitality and also exterior parking area lighting.

The spectacular roof structure above the pitch is equipped with Philips Colour Kinetics architectural lighting, creating dazzling light shows for visitors. The lighting on the façade can be synchronised with the lighting in the parking area, helping to create a fully immersive experience. The façade lighting ensures the structure can be seen from afar and has become a city landmark and tourist attraction.

Wanda Metropolitano is the first 100 per cent LED lit stadium in the world
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