LED Stadium Lighting for outdoor sports facilities

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LED Stadium Lights

LED Stadium Lights are designed to replace 400W to 2000W Metal Halide and HPS stadium lights. We have DLC Qualified LED stadium lights which makes them eligible for rebates through your utility company.
Stadium lights have so many applications over and above lighting up outdoor sports areas. They can be used for security lighting, flood lighting and on top of large poles. We can support high voltage applications up to 480V.

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LED Stadium Lights and Sport Lighting: The Definitive Guide


Introduction to Stadium Lighting

One of the latest trends that people attending stadiums and sports arenas are noticing are the new energy-efficient lighting systems that make the game look spectacular. But the switch from inefficient metal halide lamps to LED technology did not begin yesterday, it began way back in 2012 when a young LED company installed the first LED lighting system in New York’s Onondaga County War Memorial Hockey Arena. Less than four years later, LED lights were used to illuminate Super Bowl XLIX at the University of Phoenix Stadium located in Glendale, Arizona.

The initial attraction to LED technology for stadium managers and owners was the estimated 75% savings on energy costs. However, the universal acceptance of the technology – which is used by almost a third of professional sports venues – became possible when team executives clearly saw that it had the ability to enhance the game experience for fans.

The Hard Rock Stadium spent more than $550 million on its LED conversion project. LED lights completely transformed the stadium and took the fan experience to a whole new level. According to Todd Brian, the senior vice president of stadium operations, LED technology is a cost-effective solution that has enhanced the event presentation for soccer, football, concerts, and the other world-class events that are held at the facility.

And while more and more stadiums are making the switch to LED technology, it has also become standard for all new stadiums to be constructed with LED lighting systems. The two newest stadiums that have been built by the NFL, the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, both feature LED lighting systems. They are also the host sites for super bowl LII and LIII. Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, a multipurpose arena that is the new home of NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, has also been built with LED technology.

The controllability of LED lights greatly benefits these stadiums as it allows for entertaining light shows such as player introductions, half-time shows, and scoring celebrations. Back in 2015, Katy Perry extended her half-time show at Super BOWL XLIX beyond what was initially planned thanks to LED technology. This happened because the producers learned that LEDs could allow them to black out the arena and restore the light levels immediately.


Why LED Stadium Lights?

Stadium lights are a very crucial part of any stadium and other outdoor sports venues. These spaces host a variety of events which include sports, flea markets, concerts, and outdoor games. Having bright stadium lights is an absolute necessity as they not only provide sufficient lighting for atheletes and other people on the field, they also allow spectators and visitors to move in and out of the venue easily and safely.

When LED stadium lights are installed in a stadium that lacks a good source of illumination, they allow for more events to take place in the space. They increase the versatility and usefulness of an outdoor sports venue and provide a lot of value to the operators and owners of the venue.

Lighting Systems Used In Stadium Lights

Metal Halide Lamps

Almost every American remembers the temporary power outage that made Super Bowl Sunday a blackout Sunday. The Baltimore Ravens were playing against the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans when the Superdome experienced a blackout that lasted for 34 minutes. If the field had been illuminated by LEDs, the situation would have been very different.

The main problem was the type of light fixtures used. It is reported that after the blackout, power was restored almost immediately. However, the Superdome, like some other sports venues, uses metal halide lamps for illumination. Since these light sources take up to 30 minutes to warm up, the game could not resume until the light fixtures had attained full brightness.

A metal halide lamp is a type of high intensity discharge light that produces bright light (in blue and white spectrums). Since the 1960s, metal halides have been used in a number of applications – from sports fields to retail stores. Their ability to produce bright, white light, their relatively long lifespan, and their high luminous efficacy made them the go-to lighting choice for years.

A metal halide lamp produces light when an electric arc goes through a mixture of gases, causing light to be generated. It normally contains a blend of gases like mercury, argon, or xenon and different metal halides. Metal halides are usually formed when halogen is combined with a metal. In metal halide lamps, the metals are usually mixed with bromine or iodine. The specific type of metal halide used helps dictate the color temperature of the light.


Metal halide has more downsides than upsides. Let's look at 6.

Long warm up time: When you switch on a metal halide lamp, it will take some time to warm up before it achieves full brightness. This can take anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes.

Long cool down time: If the power to the lamp is disconnected for some reason, it will automatically switch off and take 5 to 10 minutes to restart again.

Color shifting: This is one of the biggest downsides of metal halide lamps. As the lamps start to age, the color of the light they produce changes, it is no longer uniform.

Arc tube rupture: Metal halides usually contain arc tubes that deteriorate as the lights get to the end of their lives. The arc tubes begin to discolor or produce more heat than they should and may rupture because of this, causing the outer glass bulb to rupture as well.

They contain mercury: As we previously mentioned, metal halide lamps usually contain a small amount of mercury and are not good for the environment. And because mercury is toxic, the disposal process for the lamps is very intricate. The United States Environmental Protection Agency gives detailed information on how mercury-containing light bulbs should be recycled.

UV radiation: When a metal halide lamp is switched on, it generates ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Extreme exposure to UV radiation may cause premature aging of the skin and raise the risk of cataracts and skin cancers.

LED Lights

LEDs have a myriad of benefits other lighting technologies do not have. They are highly energy-efficient and lower energy expenditure by 75%. They maintain almost all of their brightness for their entire lifetime. They do not buzz or flicker like traditional lighting technologies, and they lower light maintenance costs because of their long lifespan. In addition, LEDs do not contain harmful components hence their disposal process is not complex.

LED lights have a very high color rendering index (80 and above) which means they bring out the true colors of objects very well. They are also available in a variety of color temperatures to fit different applications. Because LEDs consume very little electricity, they can be powered by solar and decrease demand on the power grid.

LED Light Benefits for Stadiums

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They Help Teams to Cut Down Energy Costs

If we were to use sports terms to describe the energy-efficiency of LEDs, we would say that they are a slam dunk. This is because they generate more light while consuming less electricity. But perhaps the major reason why LED stadium lights have gotten so popular in a very short time is because of the savings they offer teams, clubs, and owners of sports venues.

Metal halides have a life expectancy of 15,000 hours while LEDs have a rated life of 50,000 hours. Higher-quality LEDs have an average lifespan of 100,000 hours. Since LEDs last three times longer than metal halide lamps, they are perfect for use in stadiums. They are also very well-built and require very little maintenance during their lifetimes.

At the University of Phoenix Stadium, about 780 metal halides were replaced with 312 LED stadium lights. The amazing thing is that the energy usage was reduced by 900 kilowatts. What's more, the amount of light hitting the field was doubled despite the number of fixtures being reduced by more than half.

LED lights can reduce energy consumption by as much as 90% if they are used together with lighting controls that ensure stadium lights are on only when they need to be on. And if the lights are not used continuously every day of the week, their life expectancy goes up.

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Safe for People and the Environment

When it comes to environmental issues, there are numerous concerns – such as air pollution and global warming. Traditional light sources only contribute to these issues. They convert 95% of the electricity they pull into heat (not light) and most contain dangerous components such as mercury.

As we earlier said, metal halide lamps produce UV radiation which can be very harmful to humans. They also contain mercury. Spectators are exposed to these harmful components as they sit for long hours watching a game. Players are also affected as they practice, play, or compete.

LEDs do not produce any UV radiation and don't contain any hazardous components. They only convert 5% of the electricity they draw into heat, which means they don't produce excessive heat. The light fixtures contain heat sinks that absorb and dissipate excessive heat into the environment. They have the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, and all types of weather conditions and are perfect for outdoor sports arenas.


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Perfect for Broadcasting

Metal halide lights may provide sufficient lighting to stadiums and sports arenas, but they were never built with today's TV broadcasts in mind. The thing is, a camera does not see light the way a human eye sees it. Modern cameras pick up some spectrums of blue, green, and red and mix these colors to create digital broadcasting.

Lighting that works perfectly for fans who are in the stands will not work for fans who are watching the game from home. Ultra-high definition (HD) which is the home version of 4K cinema, was recently introduced. But most sports venues can't broadcast in ultra HD, even if their current lighting is supplemented. The lighting systems used in these venues cannot work with 4K or 8K broadcasts, which is where TV broadcasting is at the moment. This is another reason why stadiums and sports arenas must embrace LED technology.

Another big advantage of LEDs is that they don't flicker. This means that they won't affect slow motion replays with a distracting, flashing effect. LED lighting that is built for broadcasting is what humans have been waiting for.


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They Improve the Game

LED lights not only improve the game for the spectators, they also improve it for the players. When LED lights were installed at a race track in America, the drivers started saying that the light was uniform and that glare had been significantly reduced. Precise pole and fixture placement and advanced lenses ensure that drivers have the best visibility as they drive around the racetrack.

When LED lights are installed in a hockey rink or a baseball field, they provide uniform light which helps the players to see the speed of the hockey puck or the baseball. If metal halide lights are used in these spaces, they create bright spots and dark spots. As the ball travels through a shadow created by a dark spot, it appears to be slowing down or speeding. This is a big disadvantage to a player who only has a second to determine the position of the ball before making their next move.

Foot Candle Recommendations for Stadiums and Sports Arenas

Because sporting activities vary, their lighting requirements also vary. Games like cricket which involve quick action and have a small playing object and a long viewing distance need high light levels. But games like football and basketball which involve slower action and have a big playing object and a close viewing distance need lower light levels.

The Illuminating Engineering Society gives lighting specifications for different sports and recreational areas. There are also other guides that recommend luminance levels for different sports. Lighting recommendations for different sports are usually grouped into classes of play.

Class I: Top level competition

Class II: Middle level competition

Class III: Low level competition as well as supervised training


The EN 12193:2007 recommends these lighting levels for the major sports:

Class IClass I Lux LevelsClass II Lux LevelsClass III Lux Levels
Baseball500 (outfield)300 (outfield)200 (outfield)
Baseball750 (infield)500 (infield)300 (infield)
Cricket Grounds500-750300-500200-300
Bowls (Flat Green)300200100
Horse Racing20010050


The glare rating for all light fixtures used in top level competitions must be 50. Fixtures used in intermediate level competitions must also have a glare rating of 50, except those used in athletics which should have a rating of 55. For lower level competitions, the lights must have a glare rating of 55, except those used in bowls (lawn bowls) which should have a glare rating of 50.


8 Tips for Choosing LED Stadium Lights 

Flood lights are the light fixtures that are commonly used in stadiums and sports arenas. These 8 tips ensure you buy the best LED option.

1. Go For High-Quality LED Chips

High-quality LED chips deliver high brightness, luminous efficacy, and color temperature. Top brands in the LED industry – like MEANWELL, Cree, and Bridgelux – create their LED chips using the most advanced technology such as COB and SMD. The malfunction rate of these chips is very low. It is recommended that you get LED stadium lights with high-quality LED chips as they will last longer.


2. High Luminous Efficacy

Luminous efficacy is the major indicator of the performance of a LED bulb. It is calculated as the lumens generated for a single watt of electricity pulled. Luminous efficacy accurately measures how well a bulb produces visible light, which is usually measured in lumens. Thanks to advancements in LED technology, the current luminous efficacy standard is 100 lumens per watt. However, most high-quality LEDs have a higher luminous efficacy than this.


3. The Right Beam Angle

The beam angle usually dictates how the light will be distributed. If the beam angle is wide and the light uniformity is very high, the brightness on the ground will be very low. On the contrary, if the beam angle is very narrow, the light uniformity is low and many spots are created on the ground despite the brightness of the light.

The lights you choose should have the right beam angles in order to balance light uniformity with brightness. Our lighting engineers can carry out a photometric analysis to help you choose lights with the right beam angles.


4. The Lights Must Be Waterproof

The longevity and efficiency of light fixtures is usually dependent on where you install them. Since stadium lights are installed outdoors, they are affected by operational conditions such as water and humidity which can damage them. This is why they must be specially designed for wet locations.

A wet location is any place where water or any form of moisture can flow, drip, or splash on the light fixtures and affect their electrical components. The light fixtures must be UL Listed for Wet Locations. They should have an IP rating of 66. IP66 rated light fixtures work well under the harsh weather conditions that usually affect stadiums and outdoor sports fields.


5. Excellent Heat Dissipation

Heat sinks prevent LED lights from getting damaged because of overheating. Good ones are usually made of pure aluminum which has the best heat conducting rate (238W/mk). The higher the value of the aluminum, the higher its conductivity rate. A good heat dissipation system should provide sufficient air ventilation passage in the lamp’s interior.

There should be space between each single row of LED chips and the structure should be hollow to reduce air resistance. This helps transfer heat from the lamp to the surrounding area. The heat dissipation section should also be large and dense. Aluminum fins can be used to quicken the cooling process.


6. Color Rendering Index

The color rendering index indicates how well colors will be revealed under a certain light source. It defines how a bulb makes an object appear to human eyes. The higher the color rendering index, the better a bulb’s color rendering ability. When it comes to sports lighting, a color rendering index of 80 is required. In sports like basketball, a CRI of 90 and above is preferred.


7. Color Temperature

Most organizations usually specify the minimum allowable color temperature (correlated color temperature) for sports field lighting. For instance, FIFA and FIH require their lights to have a CCT of 4000K and above, the NCAA needs lights with a CCT of 3600K and above, while the NFL uses lights with a color temperature of 5600K and above.

While our eyes adapt very well to light sources with different color temperatures, television and digital cameras do not. They must be adjusted in order to display the colors humans expect to see. This is why it is so important for LED lights in a sports venue to have the proper correlated color temperature. If they don’t, television cameras will display irritating color shifts as they move across the field.


8. Glare Rating

While the glare rate is seldom mentioned, it is very essential in sports lighting. Too much glare may lead to visual discomfort and cause people to squint as they watch or play a game. It may also impair the vision of details and objects. For example, players may be unable to see fast-moving balls. Glare also reduces the brightness of the light in some areas. Our flood lights have advanced lenses that focus the light beam where it is needed and decrease light leakage by 50%.


LED is the Future of Stadium Lighting

Illuminating stadiums and sports arenas is both an art and a science and will only get better with time. When we install lights in these spaces, we ensure that every player has several light fixtures directed at them. If they are captured on camera, spectators can see their faces and distinguish their facial expressions. And because of this, they feel closer to the game. This is an art.

We have also built global positioning systems and accelerometers into our lights to make sure that each one is positioned just as it should be. This is a science.

LED is truly the future of stadium lighting and very soon, all major sporting activities will be played under LED lighting. Countries in different parts of the world are building stadiums illuminated by LEDs as they show their support for green initiatives and other efforts of saving the world.

Retrofitting with LEDs is a cost-efficient alternative for existing sports venues. Most stadiums can expect to recoup their investment in less than 3 years. When you consider the benefits LEDs offer players, fans, and stadiums – and also look at the energy savings – you understand why switching to LED is really a no-brainer.

LED Stadium Light Savings Metrics


TheLightingCenter has a complete range of LED Stadium Lights for use in a wide range of applications - Sports Parks, Ball Parks, Stadiums, Container Ports, Airports, Highways and DOT roadways  or Track and Field Facilities that make for a compelling economic choice.

While the energy savings are significant, the maintenance and replacement hassles pack a real punch. TheLightingCenter LED Stadium Lights and HID retrofits last an unbelievable 50,000 + hours. This long life is made possible by a combination of high quality LED, LED smart driver, and an efficient cooling solution that limits the temperature of the LED to ensure a long hassle free service life.

Wattage (Lumens)Light Output ReplacesEnergy savings*
100 W Retrofit Kit 15,550
400 W HID$15,549.00
320 W Retrofit Kit 44,2351000 W HID$36,354.00
400 W High Mast 52,0001000 W HID$32,850.00
900 W High Mast 117,0002000 W HID$61,320.00
600 W High Mast 96,0002000 W HID$48,320.00

* Assuming 100 lights used for an average of 12 hours per day and electricity charges of $ 0.10 per kWh.

What about Payback?

Payback is a relatively simple calculation that really involves 4 main components:

1. How much do the fixtures cost?

2. The cost of installation and possible disposal of the old fixtures

3. The amount of rebate you can expect back.

4. The cost of electricity, the hours of use and the difference in the previous energy used compared to the new energy consumed.

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Rebates are the domain of the utility company you pay your bill electricity to. And it varies from supplier to supplier but here are some general information that is somewhat consistent (but not always).


  • Utility companies prefer DLC Listed product and Energy Star Rated produces
  • they usually have a prescriptive calculation as well as a custom calculation process
  • typically, the more you save, the better the rebate. That is why you should look for DLC Premium Qualified Products
  • You should expect to see a 75% savings when converting from Metal Halide to LED
  • Paybacks have gotten relatively short.

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