Seminole County Sports Complex in Sanford, Fla.
By Deborah L. Vence
When Seminole County Sports Complex, a 15-field sports facility that hosts baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse, in Sanford, Fla., opened in the spring of this year, it also came with a state-of-the-art LED lighting system.
The new multi-million-dollar complex, which features batting cages, a large central pavilion for groups, a playground, restrooms, walking paths and more, has the benefit of Musco Lighting's Light-Structure Green LED lighting system, which reduces energy consumption, compared with high-intensity light sources.
"You have the ability for instant on and off," noted Jeff McNulty, executive director of sales and services, Musco Lighting, an Oskaloosa, Iowa-based company that specializes in the design and manufacture of sports and large area lighting solutions around the world.
"LED allows you to dim the lights and save on energy," he said, adding that another key benefit is that, with properly designed LED optics, lighting glare is reduced. He added, "It would be more so the manner in which we are developing optics around the LED light source. We always led the industry in spill and glare control of lighting. We are taking it to another level to the LED light source.
"We have an exclusive light management system [that] vertically illuminates on the ball while it's in play," he added.
This makes it so that there is minimal light in the sky, and just a proper amount of light is being targeted, while keeping the backdrop black behind it. As a result, there is a significant reduction in sky glow and improved playability for athletes and participants.
"It's not just the fact that it's LED. … It's the complexity in building in optics into our system and understanding the trajectory of the sports. We're a company that's done sports lighting for 40 years. That's 90 percent of what we do," he said.
Benefits of the LED lighting system include: visibility, which enhances the player's ability to track the flight of the ball; energy efficiency, which cuts energy consumption by 64 percent compared to typical 1500-watt metal halide equipment; and maintenance savings, with a 10-year parts and labor warranty backed by a team of area technicians.
The sports complex is projected to save more than $1 million in operating costs over the next decade.
"We're also monitoring these lights from Iowa. Every time the lights are turned on, and if there is any issue, we proactively have technicians [take care of it]," McNulty said.
One of the challenges with the lighting of the sports complex had to do with the facility's close proximity to the Orlando-Sanford International Airport, as well as a nearby residential neighborhood. However, the patent-pending light management system uses customized optics to direct light with pinpoint precision without creating glare, spill or disruptive sky glow for pilots.
And, as far as cost savings, it's estimated that the lighting system will save the complex more than $100,000 a year in operating costs. "[It will] save about 64 percent more energy than a metal halide system," McNulty noted.
With Musco controlling the lighting system, one of the beneficial features is that you can turn the lights on only when they need to be. Through an app, the lights can be shut off.
"They have the ability to instantly, with the use of the app and call center, shut off the lights on [a field]," he said.
To boot, facility management is made more efficient by the fact that the system delivers usage reports and remote scheduling operation via a smartphone app, 24/7 call center and website.
Joe Abel, director of leisure services, Seminole County, said the LED lighting system is "working wonderfully for the complex, and we are extremely pleased.
"The system is better than any I have previously utilized and any that I have seen utilized elsewhere. The benefits from costs savings, life expectancy and performance are an outstanding illustration of being effective and efficient in our sports lighting opportunities to the benefit of our residents and visitors," he said.
"We like the system so well we are utilizing it for a $7.5 million renovation to another project we are currently building that includes six championship- caliber women's fast-pitch softball fields," he added.