MEP Design in Sports: Proper Lighting is Essential

It is no secret that Americans are consuming sports entertainment more than ever before causing live sports television markets to skyrocket. With every grant of rights agreement reached, with every broadcasting bid won, the payouts continue to climb at alarming rates for all major sports. So does the pressure to perfectly present these programs.

The staffs of major television networks work painstaking hours to deliver a sublime viewing experience for the audience at home. While these production professionals have plenty of nifty Hollywood camera tricks up their sleeves, if the venue is not up to par, all of their efforts are for naught.

What is the Most Important Component to Sport Facilities?  Proper stadium infrastructure has the ability to enable the absolute best for athletic competition broadcasting and one of the most basic, yet most under appreciated aspects in the initial design phase for these venues, is lighting.

Importance of Good Lighting

You don’t have to go very far to understand the importance of lighting to sports. Few things in the sports realm send a shiver down a fan’s spine like the phrase “night game.” The idea that your favorite team is on national television in prime time breeds excitement. It is simply by definition that lighting allows the idea that sports played in the dark to exist. However, in the age of high-definition television, capturing the event’s vibrant colors and minute details hinges on the stadium lighting to be done just right.

A perfect example can be displayed in what is now known as one of the greatest endings of all of college football history, the Kick Six of the 2013 Iron Bowl (start at minute 3:00)

As in the clip and the pictures below, all 120 yards of Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium is uniformly lit to serve the 109 yards of Chris Davis’s game-winning return.


As camera pans out during the celebration, it shows that this uniformity continues beyond the field of play and sidelines to about halfway up the lower bowl.


The lighting layout at Jordan-Hare helps capture the emotion of that final play and makes for fantastic viewing. While this should be used an example of what proper MEP design can do, there are examples of when it is not quite right. The picture below shows a free kick about to take place in a soccer match between the Columbus Crew and the Chicago Fire.


This behind-goal view shows the soccer pitch is uniformly lit up until the six-yard box. This means that any highlight of a scoring opportunity or goal will feature sub-optimal lighting. Another picture of a corner kick from a different match, but the same venue. This view reveals that the corners of the pitch are also quite dim compared to the midfield.


The lighting layout shown here not only fails to enhance the fan experience, but hinders it. These kinds of details are noticeable to the viewing public. While the average person might not be able to pinpoint the problem, the fact that the audience recognizes a difference is a design failure.

Allegheny Design Services

Proper and professional MEP design is essential to setting the stage for the best of sports. It pays attention to the fine details and, when done correctly, appears invisible and often is taken for granted.

Mechanical, electrical and plumbing services (MEP) are a significant component of the construction supply chain. Proper MEP design is critical for moving air, water, and electricity to the areas where they need to go.

Allegheny Design Services (ADS) provide complete MEP engineering services to our clients across the country.  To learn more about us, click here!

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