Abacus Lighting

West Bromwich Albion

Adaptation in Sports Lighting

West Midlands, UK: December 2014

As the English Premier League enters its 23rd season, advances in camera and broadcasting technology have forced the need for adaptation in lighting technology. With deals in place generating the most-watched professional football league in the world more than €2.2bn (US$2.9bn) a year in domestic and international television rights, the consideration of stadium facilities for televised and photographic appearances has never been more critical. High-definition camera technology provides about five times as many pixels as standard-definition with an increased frame-rate to deliver the best possible pictures, changing the way sporting events are filmed and viewed. For cameras to pick up play, leagues have had to ensure that grounds meet new pitch lighting requirements for the start of the 2014/2015 football season.

These increases in lighting levels have affected all 92 members of the Football League, including clubs in the English Premier League, Championship, League 1 and League 2, along with teams from the Skrill Premier looking to achieve promotion. Some of the required changes have included routine maintenance, lamp changes, replacement masts and even structural alteration to stands. With a capacity of 26,850, The Hawthorns is home to English Premier League football club West Bromwich Albion FC. As the club enters its fifth successive season in the Barclays Premier League, Abacus Lighting has been brought on board to ensure that the lighting on The Hawthorns pitch meets the new Premier League requirements.

At this televised level of play, the English Premier League now requires 1,650 lux vertical light to the main camera, with the lighting scheme needing to comply with flicker ratings to avoid the strobe effect caused by the electrical phasing of floodlights and camera equipment, more specifically during close-up filming and slow-motion replays.

Sports Lighting at West Bromwich Albion Football Club

Because the existing masts and stand structures at The Hawthorns did not require alteration or replacement, this has dictated the number of floodlights installed at these existing mounting heights, and in the case of the West Stand, meant a different floodlight option. Here, 144 Challenger 3 2kW floodlights, delivering optically precise symmetrical beams, were installed on the ground’s four existing 40m (130ft) masts. Chosen for its specific design and suitability to stadium lighting, Challenger 3 incorporates an internal baffle to improve efficiency and reduce glare, providing the regulated low-glare lighting to ensure quality viewing conditions for players and fans.

The East, South (Smethwick End) and North (Birmingham Road End) stands all vary in height, from 19m (62ft) to 23m (75ft) above pitch level, resulting in a split of 78 Challenger 3 2kW floodlights being installed to ensure the required lux levels are adhered to across the pitch.

Standing at 12.5m (41ft) above pitch level, the West Stand required the highest level of Challenger floodlight in order to avoid loss of light and continue pitch uniformity at this low height.

The Challenger 1, a sports floodlight offering excellent light control with reduced light overspill and upward light and glare, evenly spreads downward light across the pitch using its double asymmetric reflector system. Twenty of these floodlights were installed on the West Stand, using 1kW lamps as opposed to the standard 2kW, keeping the lighting levels equal at this lower mounting height. This combination of Challenger sports floodlights has produced a lighting solution that considered the ground's existing equipment, while also ensuring low glare and uniformity across the pitch to cater to the needs of players and cameras alike. Close liaison with the English Premier League was vital to the lighting scheme being fully approved.

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