Lighting up stadiums and arenas

By Andy Gowen, Director, Public and Sports Lighting, UK & Ireland at Signify

In a few short years, pre-match and half-time lightshows have become a major spectacle as top clubs compete with each other to produce the most spectacular show. 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, of the type used by Depeche Mode and Iron Maiden, add to the excitement.

Such a sophisticated lighting system needs to meet the stringent requirements specified by international television broadcasters and sports federations – supporting high definition filming, super slow-motion replays and ensuring spectators can see the tiniest gestures and emotions. The Johan Cruijff ArenA was one of the first stadiums in the world to incorporate movable colour LED spotlights with the Philips ArenaVision system, creating a truly multi-purpose venue ideal for concerts and events. A similar partnership with Juventus resulted in fans giving 43,000 Facebook likes, 37,500 shares and 2,700 enthusiastic comments about the pre-game lightshow at its Allianz stadium.

We have since delivered many innovative lighting systems like these for major stadiums around the world, taking fan feedback and insights from stadium owners to create ever more spectacular lightshows and spectator experiences. State-of-art stadium lighting saves money and improves safety and is one of the latest ways stadiums vie for fans’ attention by creating excitement even before fans enter the venue. Furthermore, stadium owners can make fans feel secure in parking areas with bright energy-saving LED illumination and guide them from the subway to the arena with reliable and innovative luminaires. LED façade lighting can also inspire fans from afar, turning the venue into a landmark.

It’s hard to think of many other elements of the stadium experience that impact fans at so many points. Lighting has the strongest impact on the amount of time fans spend at stadiums both pre-and post-event and can even attract visitors toward retail stores. Certainly, there is no other technology that offers such a compelling return on investment or which can unlock what is quickly becoming the defining fan experience at many stadiums around the world.

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