September 26, 2017

LEDs light up the Champions League

					Energy-saving lighting technology

LEDs are the perfect lighting for top sporting events. Soccer leaguers are also taking advantage of the intelligent, energy-saving lighting technology.

The Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, has the right setting for every event: black-red-gold for national matches, red for Bayern Munich Bundesliga games, rainbow colors on Christopher Street Day, and green on St. Patrick’s Day. More than 300,000 LEDs in the 1,056 illuminated air cushions of the arena facade allow 16 million colors and very detailed color gradients.

The floodlight system was also changed to LED technology in July 2017. The 296 new LED floodlights increase the level of illumination in the arena from the previous 1,400 lux to 2,500 lux. Since, as opposed to the previous metal-halide lamps, the LED floodlights have no ultraviolet wavelengths, the light designers also installed 39 UV lamps. The shortwave light is important for TV transmissions and also optimizes the presentation of the LED scrolling displays. The light designers used lasers to align the UV lamps exactly to the displays. Fine adjustment of the LED floodlights is done with a special camera-based computer program.

Ten million euros for the perfect light

The new light concept of the arena is rounded off with Europe’s biggest videowalls. In the future, important scenes are replayed in UHD resolution on two 200 square meter LED displays. According to Jürgen Muth, managing director of Allianz Arena München Stadion GmbH, EUR 10 million have been invested so far. The much brighter lighting is also associated with “significantly lower electricity consumption” and enables completely new show effects. The LEDs are dimmable, can be switched on an off as often as required, can be made to flicker, and can be linked to the sound system.

But it’s not all about the show effect: the new illumination corresponds to the highest level of international associations and allows advertisements for European League matches and future Champions League finals. This is why an increasing number of arenas in Europe are changing to LED technology. The Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg was the pioneer in Germany. An LED floodlight system with 216 1,400 watt lamps has been providing 2,200 lux since the beginning of 2017. All 216 lamps can be controlled individually and are completely networked. LED scrolling displays, LED scoreboards, moving heads, and the LED floodlight convert the soccer arena into a temple of light with show and stage lighting. And, despite the much better performance, the operators save electricity costs. This is why they also changed the arena parking lots to LED lighting.

UV-LED for damaged arena grass

In the arena of German League team Borussia Mönchengladbach, LED technology is used to freshen up damaged grass. The Fraunhofer spin-off TSL Green Growing Solutions is responsible for this. The founders approach an expensive problem with a mobile light system on wheels. The stressed arena grass suffers from a lack of light. In some cases, it is replaced every 3 months, which costs more than EUR 100,000 each time. This explains why the greenkeepers try to delay this replacement as long as possible using metal vapor lamps. But this form of lighting incurs annual energy costs in the middle six-figure range.

The founders have now implemented an LED lighting system that makes newly sown grass grow 70 percent faster. The light wavelength is perfectly coordinated to the grass species, the climatic conditions, and the temperatures. In summer, the UV-LED lamps also prevent the grass from suffering heat stress. In winter, the infrared portion is increased to pamper the grass with warmth. The effect: the grass lasts twice as long, energy costs are less than half those of the previous lighting systems, and overall running costs are reduced by up to 80 percent. But the main thing is that the players can play soccer on healthy grass to keep the spectators happy.