While the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks were lining up on the gridiron this past February 1 in Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX, there was another big story taking place up in the rafters of University of Phoenix Stadium – and it didn’t have anything to do with a football game.
No, while the big story of the game was a questionable play call late in the game that likely cost the Seahawks their second consecutive Super Bowl title, the milestone that occurred in the rafters didn’t have anything to do with an interception, second and goal or the decision to pass or run from the 2 yard line. This story had to do with lights.
Specifically, Super Bowl XLIX was the first to be played under LED lights, a milestone that didn’t just contribute to a better home viewing experience for the 114.4 million viewers who tuned in for the annual contest and the 63,000 spectators in attendance, but one that scored big points in the name of energy efficiency as well. For instance, LED lighting is 75 percent more efficient than the previous lighting system that was installed in University of Phoenix Stadium, partially because LEDs command less of a power draw. Just flashback a few years to 2013’s Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, when power was zapped from the Superdome in New Orleans and play was suspended for over 30 minutes due to an ensuing power outage. While the verdict is still out on what exactly caused the outage, low power draw potentially could have prevented the blackout.
Other benefits of LED lighting include better and more uniform distribution of light, which contributes to less surface shadowing on the field – a feature that was noticed in the Super Bowl by all who saw it, whether it was in person or on TV.
While Super Bowl XLIX was the first large scale event to use LED lights, it’s unlikely to be the last. For instance, as more stadiums look to cut operating costs and improve the fan experience – whether it be in person or on TV – an LED lighting system makes sense. What’s more is that the up-front investment can be recouped quickly with a 75 percent energy savings, not to mention that LED lights last much longer than other types. For instance, the Minnesota Vikings are set to open a new stadium in 2016 – and LED lights are a part of the plan.
“It’s impossible to ignore the benefits of LED lights any longer, both on the small stage and on the large stage,” said Kurt Minko, President and CEO of Retro Tech Systems. “The Super Bowl was a great example of that ‘large stage,’ and based on the success of that event and the great feedback from players, coaches and fans alike, LED lights are only going to play a bigger role on the biggest stages in sports moving forward.”