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How to conduct sports arena lighting design?

The design of lighting for sports stadiums is primarily focused on meeting the lighting needs for sports such as football, track and field, rugby, and hockey. In football, the ball moves not only on the ground but also in the space between 10-30 meters above it. Therefore, a certain level of brightness needs to be maintained in all directions at this height, and the light distribution in the space below 15 meters above the football field should be extremely uniform.

1. Sports stadium lighting design standards

The standard dimensions for an athletics track and a football field:

Illumination standards for football field
LevelFunctionIlluminance(lx)Uniformity of illuminanceLight sourceGlare index
EhEvmaiEvauxUhUvmaiUvauxRaTcp
(K)
GR
U1U2U1U2U1U2
ITraining and entertainment activities2000.3≥20≤55
IIAmateur competitions, professional training3000.5≥80≥4000≤50
IIIProfessional competitions5000.40.6≥80≥4000≤50
IVTV broadcasting of national and international competitions10007500.50.70.40.60.30.5≥80≥4000≤50
VTV broadcasting of major international competitions140010000.60.80.50.70.30.5≥90≥5500≤50
VIHDTV broadcasting of major international competitions200014000.70.80.60.70.40.6≥90≥5500≤50
TV emergency broadcast10000.50.70.40.6≥80≥4000≤50
Note: Direct glare should be avoided on athletes, especially on the goalkeeper during corner kicks.

Illumination standards for track and field area
LevelFunctionIlluminance(lx)Uniformity of illuminanceLight sourceGlare index
EhEvmaiEvauxUhUvmaiUvauxRaTcp
(K)
GR
U1U2U1U2U1U2
ITraining and entertainment activities2000.3≥20≤55
IIAmateur competitions, professional training3000.5≥80≥4000≤50
IIIProfessional competitions5000.40.6≥80≥4000≤50
IVTV broadcasting of national and international competitions10007500.50.70.40.60.30.5≥80≥4000≤50
VTV broadcasting of major international competitions140010000.60.80.50.70.30.5≥90≥5500≤50
VIHDTV broadcasting of major international competitions200014000.70.80.60.70.40.6≥90≥5500≤50
TV emergency broadcast7500.50.70.30.5≥80≥4000≤50
Note: 1. Multiple individual events are taking place simultaneously on the track and field, and the illumination should meet the requirements of the corresponding cameras for each individual event.
2. Sufficient illumination should be provided at the finish line to meet the requirements of timing devices.
3. The vertical illuminance in the direction of the in-field axis camera should be greater than 60% of the vertical illuminance in the direction of the main camera.

2. Sports stadium lighting design requirements for the venue

The requirements for sports field lighting design mainly include two aspects: quantity and quality. Quantity requirements include horizontal and vertical illuminance, while quality requirements include uniformity of illuminance, color rendering index (CRI), color temperature, and glare index.

2.1 Illuminance requirements

For sports events, the primary lighting design criterion for color TV broadcasting is the vertical illuminance of the venue. Typically, the lighting scheme needs to satisfy the needs of athletes, spectators, and cameras. Therefore, the horizontal and vertical illuminance levels, as well as the brightness of the panoramic images captured by cameras, should exhibit consistent changes. Moreover, the ratio of brightness changes between athletes, the venue, and spectators should not exceed a certain threshold to ensure compliance with the requirements of color TV cameras.

2.1.1 Horizontal illuminance (Eh)

In sports field lighting, horizontal illuminance is defined as the level of illuminance measured at a height of 1 meter above the ground. This parameter is crucial for determining the lighting level of a sports field, and the required level of horizontal illuminance varies depending on the functional classification of the field.

2.1.2 Vertical illuminance [Ev]

Vertical illuminance is also a crucial parameter in sports lighting design. It typically refers to the illuminance on the vertical plane at a height of 1.5 meters above the playing area, and it significantly affects both the spectators’ viewing experience and television broadcasting. The vertical illuminance is further divided into the vertical illuminance for fixed camera positions and the vertical illuminance for the four directions.

2.2 Illuminance Uniformity [U]

The requirement for uniformity mainly stems from the needs of TV cameras, and non-uniformity can also lead to visual discomfort for athletes and spectators. Illuminance uniformity is defined as the ratio of the minimum illuminance (Emin) to the maximum illuminance (Emax) on a surface (U1) and the ratio of the minimum illuminance (Emin) to the average illuminance (Eave) (U2). Uniformity is used to control the visual conditions throughout the venue, and U1 is conducive to visual function, while U2 is conducive to visual comfort.

U1 – The ratio of minimum illuminance to maximum illuminance: U1 = Emin / Emax

U2 – The ratio of minimum illuminance to average illuminance: U2 = Emin / Eave

Uh – Horizontal illuminance uniformity

Uvmai – Vertical illuminance uniformity in the direction of the main camera

Uvaux – Auxiliary camera direction vertical illuminance uniformity UG – Uniformity Gradient

2.3 Brightness and glare.

Brightness and glare are crucial factors for the comfort of both athletes and spectators. To prevent a too dark background, some of the lighting should be directed towards the stands. The average horizontal illuminance for the seating area of the stands should be at least 100 lx, and the illuminance for the VIP area should be no less than 200 lx. Additionally, the vertical illuminance for the first 12 (or 15) rows of seats near the competition area should not be less than 25% of the vertical illuminance of the field. This not only reduces glare for spectators on the opposite stands but also improves the quality of TV images with a bright stand background.

Generally, glare is determined by various factors, including the brightness of the lighting fixtures, the solid angle of the luminaire arrangement, the emitting area, the angle between the direction of the luminaire and the normal viewing direction, the relationship between the brightness of the lighting fixtures and the background brightness when viewed, and the adaptation of the human eye (mainly determined by the luminance of the field of view). To achieve comfortable viewing conditions, it is necessary to ensure that the direct luminance within the field of view does not exceed a certain brightness value that can be referenced based on the background.

2.4 The impact of shadows.

High contrast in brightness and the presence of shadows can both hinder proper adjustment of TV cameras and impact the quality of televised images. Excessive darkness can also decrease visual comfort. However, shadows are also important for television broadcasting and viewers, especially in fast-paced soccer games with quick passing characteristics. If there are no shadows, distant spectators will not be able to track the ball’s movements.

Careful adjustment of floodlights can help improve or eliminate the impact of shadows while avoiding any adverse lighting effects. However, in sports stadiums with canopies, it can be challenging to avoid shadows caused by sunlight, even with the use of artificial lighting as supplementary lighting.

Of course, there are many other requirements for sports lighting venues that we won’t go into too much detail here. When conducting lighting design, it is necessary to fully consider these factors and make comprehensive trade-offs in order to achieve the best lighting effect and economic benefits.

3.The steps of sports stadium lighting design.

3.1 Collect project information to determine lighting standards.

In order to establish lighting standards, project information must be gathered, and numerical values must be specified for six parameters: horizontal illuminance, vertical illuminance, illuminance uniformity, color rendering index, color temperature, and glare index, based on the client’s specifications or requirements. The lighting usage function level should also be determined according to industry standards. Moreover, understanding the installation method (including the location and height of the catwalk and lighting towers), electrical distribution requirements and methods, control requirements and methods, and other relevant factors such as camera placement for TV broadcasting are also essential.

3.2 Stairway lighting mode selection

The following arrangement methods are suitable for outdoor sports stadium lighting:

  • The lights are arranged on both sides in combination with light poles or building runways, and are arranged in a continuous light strip form or a cluster concentration form on both sides of the playing field.
  • The lights are arranged in a centralized form in combination with light poles at the four corners of the playing field.
  • A mixed arrangement method that combines both side and four-corner arrangements.

3.2.1 1) For football fields without television broadcasting, it is advisable to use the sideline or corner layout. When using the sideline layout, the lights should not be placed within 10 meters of the center point along the goal line, and the distance between the bottom of the light pole and the sideline of the field should not be less than 4 meters. The height of the light fixture should be such that the angle formed between the vertical line from the light fixture to the center line of the field and the field plane should not be less than 25 degrees.

2) When using the field four-corner layout method, the angle between the line connecting the bottom of the pole to the midpoint of the field sideline and the field sideline should not be less than 5°, and the angle between the line connecting the bottom of the pole to the midpoint of the goal line and the goal line should not be less than 10°. The height of the light fixture should meet the requirement that the angle between the line connecting the center of the light to the center of the field and the field plane should not be less than 25°.

Positioning of lights in the four corners of a football field when there is no TV broadcasting.

3.2.2 1)When there is TV broadcast for a football field, it is advisable to use a combination of side, corner, or mixed arrangements for lighting. When using the side arrangement method, the lights should not be placed within 15° on either side of the goal center point along the baseline.

2) When there is TV broadcasting on a football field, it is advisable to use a combination of sideline and corner or mixed arrangement for lighting. When using a sideline arrangement, the lights should not be placed within 15 degrees of the center point of the goal line along the baseline. When using a corner arrangement, the angle between the line connecting the base of the light pole to the midpoint of the sideline and the sideline should not be less than 5 degrees, and the angle between the line connecting the base of the light pole to the midpoint of the baseline and the baseline should not be less than 15 degrees. The angle between the line connecting the center of the light cluster to the center of the field and the plane of the field should not be less than 25 degrees.

Positioning of lighting fixtures in the corners of a soccer field during televised broadcasts.

3.3 Glare control measurement

Glare is an important factor affecting lighting quality in sports field lighting design, especially in sports fields with side light strip lighting. The reasons for glare in sports field lighting are multifaceted, mainly including the following:

a. The installation height of the lamps should not be too low, usually between 40-50 meters.

b. For lamps with long projection distance, narrow-beam lamps should be used to limit the strong overflow of light outside the field and improve the utilization of light.

c. Choose luminaires with glare limitation and shading angles during installation. This may sacrifice some illuminance, but it clearly benefits glare limitation.

d. Since the length of the light band is greater than the length of the football field, in order to limit the glare at the goal area of the baseline, try to control the angle between the aiming line of the luminaire near the endpoints of the light band on both sides and the baseline at the goal area of the baseline not greater than 15 degrees.

3.4 Calculation and measurement of illuminance.

Sports lighting design mainly uses AGI software to import the IES files of selected luminaires into the software, calculate the quantity, height, and angle of luminaires according to design requirements, and export luminaire layout, illuminance distribution and glare calculation maps.

Preliminary estimation of the number of luminaires using coefficient method.

This formula calculates the average illuminance of the field:

Average illuminance of the field = (Number of luminaires * Single luminaire luminous flux * Luminaire efficiency * Maintenance factor * Utilization factor) / Field area

Maintenance factor: The light output of a luminaire will decrease after a period of use. The ratio of the decreased light output to the initial light output of the luminaire (usually taken as 0.8) is the maintenance factor.

Luminaire efficiency: The ratio of the actual light output of a single luminaire to the light output of a single light source in the luminaire (usually taken as 0.7).

Utilization factor: Because some of the light emitted by a luminaire is projected outside the field, the utilization factor is the ratio of the light projected onto the field to the total light output of the luminaire (usually taken as 0.4-0.6).

In summary, the lighting design for sports venues should be based on the actual usage requirements, determine the scene mode, lighting standards, and lighting layout. While meeting the lighting standards and quality, energy-saving and easy-to-manage lighting solutions should be adopted.

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