Superbowl LVIII to be the Greenest in History with Updated LEDs

After the illuminating debut of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, NV in 2020, the stadium is finally able to show off its award-winning lighting design in the most watched sporting event in the United States—The Superbowl!  

WSP USA, the company responsible for bringing this venue to life, has been actively lobbying for more NFL stadiums to join them in the switch to LED lighting to lower energy consumption across the nation—a feat that is nearly ten years in the making. The introduction of LEDs in football stadiums is not only revolutionizing the game itself but bringing about a real wave of cleaner energy to America’s favorite pastime. 

 

What we Know About Superbowl LVIII’s Lighting Display 

On Aug. 9, 2021, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) presented a 2021 Illumination Award of Excellence to WSP’s Allegiant Stadium interior lighting design, “for an exceptional contribution to the art and science of light,” so we know that this stadium is already nothing short of spectacular.  

The company responsible for providing light to this year’s Superbowl, WSP and Sportsbeam haven’t shared much in terms of their setup for this year’s biggest match-up. Sportsbeam themselves tend to keep a lot on the downlow, in terms of design and functionality, which I respect. (Keep your secrets, King.)  

What we do know is that Samsung has partnered up with Allegiant Stadium to light up the Big Game with new, cutting-edge display technology. The three-year-old stadium is now exclusively outfitted with over 66,000 square feet of Samsung LED displays and more than 93 million pixels, including three videoboards installed in the end zones, score clocks and ribbon boards, which border the 200- and 300-levels in the main seating bowl.  

“It’s an iconic building and specific aesthetic that utilizes lighting as a graphic and essential design element,” said Anne Rainbow Savage, lead designer for WSP on the project. And taking a look at it, iconic is certainly an appropriate word for it. 

 

These large stadium lights will utilize white plus red, green, and blue plus amber LEDs, which will not only light the field during gameplay, but will also deliver color effects for the crowd, as well as integral performances like the Usher’s Halftime show and Reba Mcentire’s National Anthem.  

 

Clean, Green, LED Machine 

In 2012, the Super Bowl held at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, along with area venues, used 15,000 MWH of electricity, which is equivalent to the power needed by 1,400 average U.S. homes in a full year! Allegiant Stadium’s energy-efficient LED lighting and event-specific controls consume 49% below the energy code allowance of 0.40 watts per square feet, making this one of the greenest stadiums in the NFL.  

The switch to LED lighting has reduced this stadium's energy production by over 75%, compared to its consumption while using outdated metal-halide lamps. LED lights also contain no toxic chemicals and can be recycled, making them a more sustainable lighting option over their predecessors.  

 

Out With the Old

In 2015, Super Bowl XLIX made history as the first ever NFL event illuminated by LED, held at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The project replaced 780 conventional metal halide lights with 312 LED lighting products. Since then, the NFL has been upgrading most of their stadiums, as the newer design brings about all kinds of exciting developments, and leaves those giant, overheating metal towers far behind them. 

One of the most prominent and noticeable changes since stadium upgrades has been the level of control that LED lights allow. Prior to 2015, it was impossible to use the metal halide lamps to generate the spectacles that we can see today during games and performances, such as the halftime show. Metal-halide lamps take minutes to get up to temperature, and once turned off, often take minutes to re-strike. Now, as the old fixtures are being replaced with efficient and controllable LEDs, stadiums are slowly realizing the added value that can be had by utilizing advanced control systems. 

 

Lighting During the First Superbowl 

In 1967, NBC and CBS simulcast the first Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers, but back then it wasn’t called the Superbowl. It was tentatively noted as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. The broadcast was said to have given viewers “a sense of the game” but lacked elements that are now an afterthought, such as a visible scoreboard, a well-lit playing field, and even the famed halftime show. 

However, the NFL had been using industrial floodlights about a hundred years ago, long before the first “Superbowl”, with the first installed on a stadium field in 1929. These old lights were so poorly designed that the football needed to be painted white in order to be visible to fans and players alike.  

Funnily enough, the real kick-start to developing better stadium lights was the Great Depression. Major League Baseball and other national sports leagues were struggling to make ends meet. One thing that made it even more challenging was the fact that all of their games had to be played during the day, making it impossible for working people to attend them. 

To save his team from bankruptcy, Kansas City Monarchs owner, J.L. Wilkerson, decided to start playing games at night so that more fans could attend. He lit the baseball diamond using six 50 foot tall floodlights with tungsten-filament incandescent bulbs. By doing this, he tripled the attendance at his games that season. Soon after, the rest of the sports leagues followed suit. 

As of 2017, more than 80% of NFL games are played at night and under stadium lights, so we have come a long way since those funky makeshift towers and footballs painted white. 

 

Illuminating Investments 

According to stadium officials and developers, LED lights pay their investors back in no time thanks to their energy-efficient design. Using 16 units of 1000 watt LED football floodlights, assuming the average electricity consumption of football field floodlights is roughly 16,000 watts, the cost to operate the football field lights is now only about $19 per day. Considering the amount of money they bring in from ticket prices alone, I’d say that $19 hardly makes a difference.  

LED lights also live longer than conventional lights and need to be serviced less than their counterparts. On average, LED lights can last from 50,000 to 100,000 hours – significantly longer than traditional lighting sources such as metal halide (MH) and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights. This longevity, combined with the reduced energy usage, means that stadiums can enjoy long-term cost savings, making LED stadium lighting a wise investment for the future of football.  

 

Shining a Light on Safety 

Safety is always a concern in stadium design and operation. LED stadium lights contribute to enhanced safety by providing bright, consistent lighting that improves visibility throughout the venue, not just on the field for the players, but in the stands as well. This is particularly important in areas like staircases, walkways, and parking lots, where good lighting can prevent accidents and ensure safe navigation for everyone.  

Additionally, the ability to control and adjust LED lighting easily allows for quick adaptation in case of emergencies. Remember the 2013 Superbowl, when a power outage stopped play for nearly 30 minutes?  Just minutes after the Ravens reached a 28-6 lead on the second-half kickoff, the lights went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Some backup lighting remained on, but play was stopped, and the international television broadcast was interrupted. Officials from Entergy, the utility company supplying power to the Superdome, said the outage occurred when sensing equipment detected an 'abnormality' in the system's energy consumption. 

I bet the stadium officials wished they had the capabilities of LED’s back then, which would have prevented an overuse of energy that caused the power outage. With this new technology, stadium operators can now manage lighting requirements efficiently, adapt to changing events, and respond to emergencies promptly, leaving lengthy power outages in the past.

 

Enhancing The at Home Experience with High-Quality Lighting 

The quality of lighting provided by LED technology doesn’t just provide benefits for the stadium; A well-lit LED display also makes for a better at home experience as well. LED lights offer superior color rendering and uniform illumination, which is crucial for sports events, concerts, and other activities.  LED lights can be programmed for special effects and dynamic presentations, adding to the overall entertainment value of events for people to enjoy from the comfort of their homes.  

At this year’s Superbowl, Allegiant Stadium will be utilizing its revolutionary LED lighting as a visible, graphic element in high-contrast spaces while maintaining visual comfort for its occupants throughout the facility, and for the Superbowl party in your living room. 

The intensity of LED lights makes it easier for television cameras or digital devices to capture the contrast of events. This means that the ball will stand out more, the players will seem clearer, and the fans won’t look like a faceless blob, which helps when it comes to capturing those crowd reactions. The high quality of LEDs also provides a steadier light source as they don’t flicker, eliminating flashing distractions during slow-motion replays of critical plays. These stadium lights function similarly to the high lumen output LED floodlights found at residential companies like Sunco.  

 

The End Zone (see what I did there?)  

No matter what your Superbowl Sunday plans are when it comes to watching the game, be it rooting for your favorite team, having a party in front of your television with friends, or wanting to catch a glimpse of Taylor Swift in the stands, you can count on knowing that the game is going to be well-lit and effortlessly broadcasted. Flicker free LED stadium lights will make those slow-motion replays crisp and clean. The supercharged, colorful displays will give us a rainbow of a light show and spotlight the sweat on Usher’s brow at the halftime show.  

Even if your favorite team plays poorly, at least you can take solace in knowing that Allegiant Stadium tried their best to make them look good and bright. 

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