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Feature Article - October 2006

Age of Enlightenment

Selecting the right sports lighting for performance and aesthetics

By Kara Spak


Adding dim lights to champagne, strawberries, caviar and roses may make for sizzling romance.

But that same lighting atmosphere—even with power sports drinks and tasty concessions—can make your sports venue fizzle.

Lighting your sports and recreation facility may not be the most compelling subject to sell to taxpayers or your local recreation board. And proper, effective lighting is based on any number of variables, so a one-size-fits-all approach is doomed to fail.

But that doesn't mean failure is certain. In fact, facilities nationwide are singing veritable love songs about their new lighting systems and the lower electricity bills that come with today's modern lights.

By familiarizing yourself with some light-speak (What exactly is a foot-candle, anyway?) and deciding which class of lighting your facility fits in (Are you going for the Philadelphia Eagles' new Lincoln Financial Field or a small-town co-rec softball field?), you're well on your way to shining brightly—and smartly.

Communities across the country are finding that even a little bit of lighting—when done correctly—can make a whole world of difference.

It can even save you money in electricity bills.

But like choosing a date for that romantic, memorable, candle-lit night, selecting the perfect lighting for your sports facility isn't easy. There are any number of variables related to what sport you are offering, what level of competition is being played, and who is playing and watching the sport.

Taking the lighting outdoors, you are dealing with not only the natural environment but local laws dictating what time and levels of lighting can be used.

And the language of lighting, like the language of love, is not always easy to understand.

But with some thoughtful research and careful preparation, you can play matchmaker successfully between your lighting and your athletic or recreation facility. And you can make a match, that like a perfect love, endures.