At football stadiums, eyes are always firmly on the action on the pitch. It’s not surprising, but means that most fans who attend games live, and those who watch on television, take stadium lighting for granted. It is a key part of the spectacle, but a secondary consideration for supporters.
For stadium owners, clubs and tournaments, however, reliable and efficient lighting is a critical part of the product they offer.
In recent years, LED has emerged as a favoured lighting solution at stadiums and arenas around the world, bringing many advantages and impressive new possibilities. These include better light quality, more uniformity, improved efficiency, longer reliability, and enhanced entertainment and television broadcasts.
Just like those playing under the lights, the quality and performance of different LED manufacturers can vary dramatically. A successful lighting project needs a complete system approach with rigorous planning, design, testing, research and development.
In 2017, UAE football giants Al Ain FC determined that their Hazza bin Zayed Stadium was in need of a lighting overhaul.
The 25,000-seater stadium gained international acclaim for a number of architectural elements following its completion a year earlier. It was the first stadium in the world to feature an innovative parasol roof designed specifically to fully shade all fans in attendance. In 2014, it was voted Stadium of the Year by StadiumDB.com.
AL AIN’S SWITCH TO LED
But 12 months after opening, a new lighting system was necessary to meet television broadcast requirements. Light level requirements for the 2017 and 2018 FIFA Club World Cups and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup were also an issue. Additionally, Al Ain’s owners did not want to increase energy consumption at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, and wanted to reduce maintenance on the lighting and associated costs.
After exploring their options, Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) and Al Ain opted to partner with Musco, a company boasting almost four decades’ experience of lighting up sports stadiums and competitions around the world.
The major challenge of the project, however, was timing. The initial window for installation was from August 1 to October 3, 2017, which was soon narrowed – because of an external event – to a final deadline of September 25. Another complication arrived as a global cyber attack on shipping lines caused a two-week delay in the materials arriving at the stadium.
The project’s original nine-week window was shrunk to just over five weeks.
The roof’s unique architectural structure meant that specialized cross arms for the 314 LED fixtures were custom built. Teams worked 24/7 to ensure installation would be completed on time and finished to a high standard.
In the end, the new LED lighting at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium was installed and ready to go by September 21—four days ahead of schedule.
A WELCOME CHALLENGE
“The shape of the roof is unique with every angle and mounting point different from the next,” Musa Jibat Musco, Project Manager Musco Lighting, explained to Sport Industry Insider. “We were also asked to remove and install the new system mid-season between matches. Timing was critical but we have an experienced team and had great co-operation from the club to deliver ahead of schedule.”
The new lights have exceeded all FIFA V Levels, with the new optics and glare control technology virtually eliminates glare from impacting players and fans. The LED system interfaces with the stadium’s DMX board to create new possibilities for light shows and special effects lighting. Energy consumption at the stadium has not increased, and the system’s dimming capabilities help enhance energy efficiency even further.
Mr. Rashid Abdullah, Director of Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium and Investment and Commercial Director of Al Ain Club Investment Company, told Sport Industry Insider: “The new lighting system enjoys the highest standards implemented in the world’s large and environmentally friendly stadiums. It helps to support environmental sustainability and significantly saves electric power consumption.
“Indeed, it is a new and notable addition to this masterpiece stadium of UAE and the world as well.
THE BOSS GO GREEN
The potential for greater energy efficiency was certainly a major incentive.
“The new and modern lighting technology saves up to 50-60% of energy consumption,” Abdullah added.
“Such a feature reflects the role of constant plans and relentless efforts while preparing to hold world competitions in a new and revamped look.
“Installing this modern system aims at reserving Hazza bin Zayed Stadium a leading position among the classifications of world football stadiums and to be a feature destination for global competitions.”
With the state-of-the-art system in place, Hazza bin Zayed Stadium became the first stadium in the UAE to feature LED lighting. The Abu Dhabi Sports Council has since selected Musco to also install its TLC for LED technology at other stadia. Al Jazira’s Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium and Al Wahda’s Al Nahyan Stadium will be ready for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
“Being involved with the lighting of Hazza bin Zayed Stadium has been an amazing opportunity, General Manager of Musco Lighting, Brett Paulsen, said.
“To have the only stadium in the UAE that meets all FIFA V requirements using LED shows our ability as an organization. It sets a standard for others to follow. What a fantastic facility and project to have partnered with.”