25th March 2022

Stadium Lighting 101: getting the most from your sports stadium lighting

No matter the sport, and no matter the level of ability, lighting is now a significant consideration for stadiums of all kinds. Irrespective of whether it’s the final of the FIFA World Cup or a lower-league tie on a frosty Friday night, the quality of a stadium’s lighting goes a long way to dictating the quality of the experience for viewers, fans, and athletes alike.

Not all sports lighting is the same, of course, and even similar products from a single vendor can produce very different results when employed ineffectively. In this post, we’re taking a look at the subject of sports stadium lighting and offering some key tips on how to maximise the success of your own solution.

Why good lighting matters

The important word here is “good”. Almost any floodlight manufactured within the past couple of decades will be capable of illuminating a stadium environment to some degree – but that doesn’t mean that the quality will be at an appropriate level.

What is “appropriate” can change dramatically depending on the venue but, broadly speaking, there are three overarching issues to take into account when thinking about lighting:

  1. Is the solution you’re using going to be sufficient for your athletes or players? Will they be able to operate at the same kind of level that they would in natural daylight?
  2. Does that system give spectators what they need in terms of visibility? Can they see what’s happening on the track or field clearly, no matter where they’re sat?
  3. Is your stadium well-lit enough to ensure the safety of competing professionals? This is particularly important for fast-moving and contact sports.

These are all crucial factors to address when evaluating your lighting needs.

Stadium Lighting 101: getting the most from your sports stadium lighting

Televised sport adds another dimension

In addition to the above, and where relevant, it’s important to consider broadcast coverage. In the last decade in particular, certain changes in regard to sports broadcasting mean that some stadium lighting solutions need to meet very specific requirements. With slow-motion and UHD video now commonplace, high power, flicker-free lighting solutions need to be in place in order to give the cameras what they need.

Even at lower levels, the proliferation of livestreaming means that many teams and venues have an entirely new way to connect with fans, particularly those who are located some way away. Good lighting can help to facilitate that connection.

LEDs offer a perfect solution for sports lighting needs

The lights used in modern stadiums come from a wider category known as “sports lighting”. The majority of stadium lighting systems being manufactured today use LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), though some vendors do still build their lights using metal halide lamps. These lamps are an increasingly outdated form of technology, and one that has been proven to be far less energy efficient than LED.

Because they need to illuminate large areas, stadium lights usually rely on very high power LEDs. At the highest grade of the soccer stadium lighting regulations outlined by UEFA, for instance, horizontal lighting levels need to be 1,400 lux or above. That’s more than 10 times the amount that the FA stipulates for the majority of games in the National League.

Positioning has a big impact on quality

To deliver the best lighting levels possible, stadium lights also tend to be affixed to either a stand or a mast, typically mounted between 40 and 60ft above the ground – though, at bigger venues, it’s not uncommon to find lights as high as 100ft. Common mast configurations usually include one in each of the four corners, with either one or two masts running down each of the sidelines for a total of six or eight respectively.

Because of the distance between the light and the pitch, small beam angles of between 12-60° are used to keep the light focused and intense. The actual type and number of luminaires (individual floodlight units) required normally depends on the specific circumstances of a stadium, and the sport being hosted there.

Lighting requirements can differ drastically between sports

While lighting layouts between stadiums often have a lot in common, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach – particularly between different disciplines. Much of the variance comes down to the nature of the sport itself; in hockey, for instance, the pace of the game and the size of the ball demands a standard of illumination that wouldn’t necessarily apply on a football pitch.

If you’d like to learn more about some of the specific stadium lighting considerations across different sports, why not take a look at our dedicated pages below?

Power usage varies, but can be predicted

For a stadium lighting solution to be as effective as possible, it needs to be designed with an actual venue’s requirements in mind. Take a football stadium as an example: there can be corner lighting, side lighting in both six and eight column configurations, and even grandstand lighting. Ultimately, the layout needs to work with that stadium’s specific needs.

Because of that, there’s no single answer to the question of how much power stadium lights will use. It’s a variable, and one that can change from stadium to stadium and even country to country depending on energy prices. That said, there are two things to consider when it comes to lighting costs.

Firstly, energy costs can always be predicted using a fairly basic calculations. Take the total number of luminaires and multiply that by the amount of energy that one luminaire requires (i.e. 1.18kW). Multiply the result by the current per hour kW rate (i.e. £0.20) and then, finally, multiply that value by the number of hours that your lights run for in an average year. That will give you a fairly reliable forecast of your annual running costs.

Secondly, and as mentioned above, LED lights offer many advantages over older options like metal halide. Not only are they cheaper and cleaner to run overall, they can also be switched on and off instantly, meaning they can be powered down between matches or events. LEDs are also dimmable, so they can be run on a lower power setting when circumstances allow.

Help is often available

One last thing to bear in mind when it comes to cost is that many sports governing bodies – particularly in the fields of football, rugby, and tennis – now offer grants as a way to help fund new and more energy-efficient stadium lighting solutions.

At Midstream, we’ve helped a number of our sports customers around the world apply for and secure funding for their LED stadium lighting upgrades, so it’s a benefit that’s well worth exploring if you’re looking to take your own venue to the next level.

Got any questions? Get in contact

See more of our Recent Blogs

Counting the cost: how sports clubs suffer when the lights go out

Sports venues do need to think about the potential costs of a lighting failure – which can range from fan compensation to the deterioration of commercial relationships.

Football floodlighting – don’t be left in the dark

If you’re on top at the end of the season, promotion could leave your floodlighting well-below the standard demanded by the league you’re moving into. It’s not always a quick fix so planning needs to happen now.

The advantages of LED floodlighting in Sports

We spoke to Sales Manager Patrick Daly, about the advantages of using LED floodlighting in Sports compared to older outdated systems like metal-halide lighting or sodium-vapor lamps.

The importance of partnerships for England Hockey

We’ve been working with GB & England Hockey as their Official Lighting Partner for five months now. So, we’ve asked Rich Beer, Development Director at England Hockey, to tell us more about the role partnerships play in the development of hockey in England.

18th Feb 2022

Counting the cost: how sports clubs suffer when the lights go out

You know something has truly gone wrong when people remember an event not by it’s official title, but by the technical hiccup that sent it off course. A little under a decade ago, Super Bowl XLVII took place at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. And as the San Francisco 49ers got the game underway, no-one watching could have guessed that it would eventually come to be known by a different name: the “Blackout Bowl”.

At around the 13 minute mark in the third quarter of the game, a power outage at the Superdome threw the biggest match of the American Football season into darkness. With players on both teams looking inquiringly to the sidelines, and coaching staff scrambling to find out what was going on, the game was suspended – leading to an unprecedented 34 minute long break in play.

The Super Bowl isn’t the only sporting event to have fallen victim to a blackout in recent times. Tottenham’s 2014 Europa League game against Besiktas was stopped after just eight minutes when the floodlights failed. Last year, England’s World Cup qualifier in San Marino was nearly abandoned as the result of another power outage. And just last month, Watford and Norwich’s Premier League clash was suspended for more than 10 minutes due to floodlighting issues.

Super bowl outage - Counting the cost: how sports clubs suffer when the lights go out
SuperBowl "Blackout Bowl" 2013. Image Credit: Getty Images

The interruption of a game or sports event due to lighting failure has a number of ramifications. First, there’s the issue of reputational damage. In today’s hyperconnected world, it takes seconds for bad news to spread, and a seemingly infinite amount of time for it to fade away.

While many were quick to praise the likes of Oreos for spinning the Super Bowl blackout into cute social media content for instance, others were less appreciative of the limelight. Doug Thornton – an executive at Superdome management company SMG (now ASM) – told Sports Illustrated that “even though it wasn’t our fault, it became our problem… the whole thing bothered me for months .” For years, perhaps decades to come, casual fans will likely remember the Superdome as the home of the Blackout Bowl.

Then, of course, there’s the financial impact of a lighting outage. Some estimates suggest that the 34 minute delay in 2013 cost around $2-3m in terms of lost revenues, though that’s both unverified, and quite obviously at the extreme end of the scale. Generally, it’s difficult to put an exact number on a lighting-related delay due to the huge number of factors involved.

Nonetheless, sports venues do need to think about the potential costs of a lighting failure – which can range from fan compensation through to the deterioration of commercial relationships.

In 2016, for instance, a group of Bournemouth fans demanded reimbursement from Manchester United after their game was cancelled due to an erroneous security threat. One year before, Brentford F.C. actually acceded to a similar request, compensating Birmingham City supporters for their travel after a match between the two was called off at short notice. Fan tolerance for being sent away with the promise of free readmission for a replay seems to be at an all-time low.

It’s easy to understand why. Delays to the completion of a sporting event can be hugely disruptive in terms of travel, particularly for fixtures that take place during the middle of the week or late on a weekend. Replays might be arranged for a time that’s no longer convenient for them. And any unscheduled interruption, no matter how slight, can fundamentally divert the flow of what might otherwise have been a scintillating competition.

And then, there are the athletes to consider. The introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) into football has reignited the debate about the impact of interruptions in play. After Liverpool’s midwinter game against Midtjylland was delayed by 10 minutes due to VAR checks in 2020, manager Jürgen Klopp bemoaned the fact that “each review was really long and it was really cold for the boys .”

No amount of training can prepare a player for 10 minutes of inactivity in freezing conditions, of course. And even in normal circumstances, interruptions can dramatically affect player performance – a 2018 study of games in Germany’s Bundesliga found that more than half of the decline in player performance over the course of a match can be attributed to interruptions rather than physical exhaustion .

While it might not be possible to put a specific financial cost on interruptions, all of the evidence suggests that there are very real consequences when play gets delayed or abandoned. And though lighting might be only one of the factors that can play a role in disruption, it’s also one that sports venues have a great deal of control over.

Ensuring that those lights stay on, and that it’s what happens on the pitch that makes the headlines, is in everyone’s best interests.

See more of our Recent Blogs

Football floodlighting – don’t be left in the dark

If you’re on top at the end of the season, promotion could leave your floodlighting well-below the standard demanded by the league you’re moving into. It’s not always a quick fix so planning needs to happen now.

The advantages of LED floodlighting in Sports

We spoke to Sales Manager Patrick Daly, about the advantages of using LED floodlighting in Sports compared to older outdated systems like metal-halide lighting or sodium-vapor lamps.

The importance of partnerships for England Hockey

We’ve been working with GB & England Hockey as their Official Lighting Partner for five months now. So, we’ve asked Rich Beer, Development Director at England Hockey, to tell us more about the role partnerships play in the development of hockey in England.

Light up the night, turn down the heat

To find out more about high-power LED lighting and high heat environments and to help you understand the issues you could face and how to avoid them you can download Midstream’s white paper for FREE here

18th January 2022

Football floodlighting – don’t be left in the dark

Is your floodlighting promotion-ready?

It might only be January, but – at football clubs across Europe – thoughts will already be beginning to turn towards the end of the season. And while it might not be possible to predict exactly who’s going to win what, we can at least get a decent idea of which teams will be fighting for promotion come the spring.

As exciting as that is for supporters, for clubs themselves it’s the start of what can be a long and technical journey towards the next level – one that’s often as much about what happens off of the pitch as what happens on it.

Let’s take the English football league as an example. The pyramidal structure here sees the Premier League at the top, followed by the Championship, League One, League Two, and then the National League and its numerous sub-divisions. Whenever a club gets promoted, it needs to demonstrate that its ground meets the requirements of the league it is stepping into.

These ground grading requirements cover a variety of issues, ranging from seating capacity and pitch boundaries through to the PA system and, of course, lighting. Lighting standards are critical to the modern game, not just because they create a better environment for players and supporters, but because they provide TV networks with the right visual conditions for great broadcast coverage.

AFC Wimbledon - Football Floodlighting

The higher a club goes, the more stringent the lighting requirements become. And while the difference in what’s needed between the National League and the National League North might be relatively slight, the increase in brightness required when a club goes from the National League to League Two can be as much as 70%. That’s a considerable jump, and one that has implications that go beyond just the luminaires themselves.

Generally, there are three lighting-related issues that a club needs to consider when promotion is on the table: their existing infrastructure, their current power arrangements, and planning.

  • Infrastructure
    For clubs making the climb from the lower leagues, this will be one of the primary concerns. High quality football floodlighting requires a specific combination of masts and fixtures, and while clubs at certain levels will be able to reuse or upgrade their existing facilities, some will need an entirely new installation. Naturally, that has a significant impact on planning.
  • Power
    A ground’s electricity supply can present a similar challenge to the above, albeit one that is more widely applicable. Football stadiums don’t tend to have any spare capacity when it comes to power, meaning that they use up everything they can draw down. At the same time, the increase in brightness required in the example above would also demand around 80 Amps of additional power – so clubs need to be sure that they can ramp up supply when they need it.
  • Planning
    Any significant change to a football club’s facilities will need to be approved by the local planning authority. While this may be less of an issue for grounds that occupy a dedicated space – like many of those in the Premier League, for example – clubs situated in or near to residential areas will need to show that they’ve taken factors like light spill into account when upgrading their lighting.

So, why does all of this need to be thought about in January when most domestic leagues don’t finish until May? Primarily because all of these factors have a major impact on the timeline for a new lighting installation.

Planning alone can take as long as 16 weeks, so even if the documents were submitted on January 1st, it’s not unreasonable to assume that sign-off wouldn’t take place until around mid-April. From there, any changes to the stadium’s infrastructure could take around a month, landing us in the middle of May. With around six weeks needed to build the floodlights, and four weeks to install them, that takes us to the first weekend in August – just when many leagues will kick off once again.

Ensuring that all of the above goes as smoothly as possible is clearly vital, and it’s important for clubs to get the right support in terms of planning and design so that they can prevent any unforeseen issues from arising.

Then, of course, there are the issues of cost and efficiency; many clubs operate on extremely tight budgets, and will want to ensure that they’re getting the best possible performance at the best possible price. While any upgrade from metal halide to LED lights is likely to offer considerable reductions by default, the right expertise at the design stage can help to identify additional cost-saving opportunities.

Finally, there’s the matter of future proofing. While year-on-year promotions are admittedly rare, it does make sense to think about tomorrow’s lighting requirements when planning any upgrade – just ask Midstream Lighting customer AFC Wimbledon. It might involve a slightly higher outlay in the first instance, but a forward thinking approach to lighting can ultimately save money in the long term.

There’s a long way to go between now and May. But just as any supporter will tell you that it’s never too early to start dreaming, it’s never too early to start thinking about next season’s lighting either.

See more of our Recent Blogs

The advantages of LED floodlighting in Sports

We spoke to Sales Manager Patrick Daly, about the advantages of using LED floodlighting in Sports compared to older outdated systems like metal-halide lighting or sodium-vapor lamps.

The importance of partnerships for England Hockey

We’ve been working with GB & England Hockey as their Official Lighting Partner for five months now. So, we’ve asked Rich Beer, Development Director at England Hockey, to tell us more about the role partnerships play in the development of hockey in England.

Light up the night, turn down the heat

To find out more about high-power LED lighting and high heat environments and to help you understand the issues you could face and how to avoid them you can download Midstream’s white paper for FREE here

Light pollution – what it is and how we combat it

One environmental impact of lighting that’s less talked about is caused directly by lighting itself – light pollution. So what is it?

10th December 2021

The advantages of LED Floodlighting in Sports

We spoke to our UK Sales Manager, Patrick Daly, about the advantages of using LED floodlighting in Sports compared to older outdated systems like metal-halide lighting or sodium-vapour lamps.

LED Lighting is more energy efficient and helps facilities cut costs:

With older lighting systems, such as metal-halide or sodium-vapor lamps, the majority of the energy used isn’t converted to ‘useful light’. Some of the energy used to power the light is converted to heat and some of the light you don’t even see. Metal-halide lamps throw out light in all directions. This adds to their inefficiency. Most of the light they produce doesn’t go to where it’s needed without reflectors to guide it, and these reflectors aren’t nearly as efficient as the optical systems, such as lenses, used in LEDs. So, straightaway with metal-halides you’re looking at a light loss of 20% to 50%.

When you put this into a sporting context, where the lighting makes up a very significant part of a venue’s overall energy bill, the savings to be made are huge. These savings can be as much as 70-80% when comparing LED to metal-halide lighting.

Metal-halide lighting also degrades at a far greater rate compared to LED floodlighting. After around six months over 20% of a metal-halide bulb’s lumen output will be lost as it degrades, and they only have a life span of around 3-5 years. It will still be consuming the same amount of energy, meaning it’s getting more and more inefficient and you’re getting less actual light for that energy.

A well-built LED will achieve around 110 to 130 lumen per watt. Whereas with metal-halides, after taking optical losses into consideration, you’re looking at only 70 lumen per watt. That’s going to cost you twice the installed power to achieve the same lighting levels.

Using LED lighting has helped many sports venues cut maintenance costs:

LED lighting lasts far longer than traditional lighting – at least four to five times as long because of the rapid speed at which metal-halides and other older lights degrade.

Because of their ‘solid-state’ construction, LEDs are more robust too. They’re not compromised in the same way metal-halides are by things like vibrations on masts. They cope far better with other environmental factors, such as rain and heat. As you can imagine cold water hitting an extremely hot bulb is not a good thing – especially if it happens during an event. More reasons why LED lights last longer.

With LEDs, you won’t need to pay for someone to come out as much to change the luminaires.

LED lighting has superior light quality compared to older systems:

Whether you’re watching an event live or on TV you expect and need everything to be crystal clear. LED lighting will give you that clarity from day one and every day after that. This isn’t so true of traditional lighting. With sodium-vapour lamps for example, the colour rendering index will probably be fine to start with, but it starts to change quickly.

When a metal-halide light fails it can cause problems with light uniformity across the field of play too. This can lead to problems with meeting a sports regulatory lighting requirement.

LED lighting also means broadcasted events are 100% ‘flicker-free’. This isn’t so achievable with traditional lighting.

You have more control with LEDs:

LED floodlighting turns on and off at the flick of a switch. This isn’t true of traditional lighting that can take around 15 minutes to reach full brightness. That warm-up time, or expensive restrikes, needs to be factored into when a competition takes place – and obviously it uses up energy and ramps up bills.

Dimming LED floodlights is a big benefit over traditional lighting. For example, you could light a pitch or indoor stadium to just 50% before an event begins and during any breaks and only go to full power when play takes place. Training sessions can be run without the need to have your lighting on full and still maintain the same level of uniformity overall. To do this with metal halides you’d need to turn off different lamps which can cause uniformity issues. You can introduce a level of dimming control with standard lighting – but only by investing in very expensive voltage regulators. But you’ll also need to pay for and install a separate power line so your lighting can be dimmed independently of any other systems.

LED lighting helps you minimise your environmental impact:

Being greener is rapidly moving up the agenda for everyone: players, spectators, sponsors, and is something all sporting venues need to be aware of. This is another area where LED sports floodlighting outshines traditional lighting.

Their reduced energy needs, and control functions mean less CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

When they eventually come to the end of their lifespan, LEDs are fully recyclable and contribute to the circular economy. They don’t contain any toxic, environmentally damaging materials that you’ll find in other forms of lighting either.

At a local level LEDs can prove more environmentally friendly for your neighbours too. If you’ve ever walked past a large sports stadium, you’ll understand why – light spill. Even with reflectors to try to aim light where it’s needed, old lighting systems still send a huge amount of bright light all around. LEDs keep light where it’s needed – in the venue.

Here are just a few examples of the benefits of LED floodlighting in sports and how they make your facility shine brighter:

  • In the case of everyday sporting venues subject to daily use, reliability and cost are paramount in delivering efficient, economic, and reliable long-term lighting solutions.
  • Professional and high-level sports stadiums need the very best LED technology and sophisticated lighting solutions. After all, when you’re watching any great event – live or on TV – it must be crystal clear.
  • For aqua centres, leisure pools, indoor and outdoor training pools a different set of challenges can arise due to their demanding atmospheric conditions. These facilities need lighting that’s high-quality, trouble-free, waterproof, and long-lasting. It also needs to be robust enough to withstand both humidity and the potentially corrosive effects of chlorinated water.
  • Golf driving ranges are frequently a key supplementary source of income for many golf clubs. Effective, low-cost, and low-maintenance lighting is essential to maximising the ranges’ availability to customers and the club’s revenue.
  • Show jumping, evening race meets, gymkhanas, dressage, and many other equestrian disciplines demand artificial LED lighting solutions that give them more time for hosting events and training. This helps them be more flexible when it comes to scheduling and helps increase their revenue too.
  • Ice rinks and indoor arenas require high quality lighting that emits the least heat and can deliver high definition and colour rendering. With no natural light, lighting is used during the day as well as the evenings and the light spectrum must remain stable throughout the lifetime of the luminaire.
  • Motor Sports events continue to evolve with many organisations running night races on a more frequent basis. Only the best LED lighting technology can be used for these challenging sporting spectacles. With the safety of drivers being paramount, glare must be eliminated completely, whilst the entire track must be perfectly lit. Add in TV audiences around the globe and only the most advanced and experienced solution will do.

Patrick Daly, UK Sales Manager at Midstream Lighting.

Got any questions for Patrick or want to know more about LED Lighting fill in your details below
More of our sports blogs you may like.

When it comes to finding football floodlight funding – leave it to the experts

Football floodlighting funding – This short blog is essential reading if you’re looking for help with your floodlight funding.

Football Pitch Lighting: England, Scotland, Wales, and UEFA

Depending on where a club is based and what level it plays at the rules governing the quality of pitch lighting needed can vary greatly.

The Football Association (FA) has its own rules. As do the Scottish Football Association (SFA), and the Football Association of Wales (FAW). And all clubs in each of these associations playing at a premier level are governed by the Union of European Associations (UEFA) regulations.

The Midstream Lighting & England Athletics Floodlighting Guide

We’ve created a new, comprehensive Athletics Floodlighting Guide. It’s aimed at athletic club and their facilities managers and will help them understand more about the seemingly complex and daunting world of lighting.

The importance of partnerships for England Hockey

We’ve been working with GB & England Hockey as their Official Lighting Partner for five months now. So, we’ve asked Rich Beer, Development Director at England Hockey, to tell us more about the role partnerships play in the development of hockey in England.

1st November 2021

The importance of partnerships for England Hockey

We’ve been working with GB & England Hockey as their Official Lighting Partner for five months now. So, we’ve asked Rich Beer, Development Director at England Hockey, to tell us more about the role partnerships play in the development of hockey in England.

Rich, how did you become involved in England Hockey and what’s your role there?

Firstly, I’ve always had some sort of involvement in the sport since picking it up when I was a teenager. After university, when I first started to look at a career my first role was at England Hockey as an Administrator. Then I moved away and worked for Oxford Sports Partnership. After that, I spent several years as the manager of the Senior Women’s International Hockey Team before moving to Sports England as a Relationship Manager. I came back to England Hockey when the Business Development Director role became available – so I’ve been doing this role now since 2013.

As the Business Development Director I basically oversee all the development activities the organisation does. At the moment, with COVID, my role is a bit broader with COVID guidance and looking after the competition team being in my remit.

Sitting in my department at the moment I have:

  • The competition team.
  • The workforce development team.
  • The facilities team.
  • The clubs team.
  • And the participation programme.

So, I’m really responsible for everything to do with trying to grow the team and the sport.

All the Directors at England Hockey are Executive Directors so I spend time sitting on the Board as well.

What’s England Hockey’s role in the sport? How does it feature and work?

We like to think we’re very close to our clubs and players and the ins-and-outs of the day-to-day working of the sport.

We’re undertaking a governance review and looking at the way the sport is structured and realigning our leagues and the way our competitions are run.

The clubs we work with every year, in one way or another, are direct members of EH – which is about 70% of England’s clubs which represent around 90% of our players. So we have a very close relationship with our clubs who run the most of the games – because it’s obviously a club based sport. The majority of where it’s played is either at clubs or educational institutions (schools, universities). So we like to think we’re very integral to the sport’s grassroots.

One thing to point out is that the most clubs don’t own their facilities – only around 10% do. The rest are owned by local authorities or by schools, colleges, and universities etc. This can present us with some problems though.

Despite our limited resources, we like to think we give as much support to our clubs as we can.

What sort of support?

We have three Facilities Relationship Managers who cover the work that goes on around facilities over the country.

There are around 1,000 pitches and the Facility Managers work on the playing pitch strategies that each local authority has to identify the needs for their area. That covers every single club in the country and their facility needs. We offer advice and support to these playing pitch strategies to make sure that, as far as possible, the right pitches are provided in the right places. Alongside that, we offer advice and guidance to anyone developing facilities.

The same is true across the breath of what we do. We train thousands of coaches every year with both face-to-face and online courses. We offer club forums where we get clubs together to talk about how to develop themselves and the sport. We run national knockout competitions and set up the framework through which junior and adult matches are run and delivered.

With the changes we’re making, we’ve taken overseeing the governance of the sport right down to a local level too.

One of the things we’re doing this year is developing a new game IT management system that all the fixtures and results will be organised through. This will massively streamline the amount of admin club officials have to go through.

So we do a huge amount to try to support clubs to develop themselves and their role in their communities.

The wider community?

The range and size of our clubs varies massively. Our largest club has on the way to 1,800 players. It’s run like a business and is out there developing the game in the community around it. Our support really focuses on trying to help clubs to be part of the local community and to develop themselves. Our clubs are highly motivated and do an outstanding job doing that.

We see everything really. The energy and drive of our coaches and volunteers, a mix of paid and volunteer roles, is incredible. The kind of things you see them doing? Open days, junior activities, school outreach work. We’ve got a programme around learning disability hockey called Flyers Hockey that’s being run by our clubs. There are around 50 Flyers Hockey clubs around the country being run by our passionate volunteers trying to make sure hockey is for everybody. So we have brilliant activities going on.

All clubs are on that developmental journey and there’s an amazing amount of effort going on into keeping the game thriving locally led by the clubs.

What’s your relationship with GB Hockey?

GB Hockey is a vehicle for the International Teams effectively. The way GB hockey works is it’s a company with a board that delegates the delivery of the Olympic teams to what is called the ‘nominated country’. This is whichever team is highest ranked and usually that’s England. For most of the time the current structure has been in place England has been the nominated country and England will lead the GB Hockey programme.

Do England Hockey pick the Olympic teams or is it a combination?

The coaches that are selected for the GB Hockey programme pick the squad and the GB Hockey board oversee the selection. The nominated country’s head coach is normally selected as the GB hockey head coach and we carefully manage and negotiate the politics of the selection.

You’ve already got lots of partners – what role are they playing in strategy development?

We’re currently going through a strategy review at the moment. What’s an absolute given is that the clubs and participation are at the heart of the game for hockey. And we have other ambitions around growing the visibility and profile of the sport and using that to grow participation. But clubs are at the heart of everything we do.

Like everybody we have resource challenges and the beauty of partnerships we’ve struck up is that they extend our expertise.

I think that’s the real opportunity of working together with partners like Midstream. Your specialist knowledge is something we haven’t got the capacity to have within ourselves. Being able to work closely with a partner allows us to mutually develop an understanding, knowledge, and expertise of a marketplace. On our own as EH we’d never be able to get to the level of detail we can with your support. That allows us to stay up to date with technological developments, guidance, and expectations which is a huge opportunity.

We have a great relationship with the FIH (International Hockey Federation) and Alistair Cox, the Facilities Leader there too. So between the relationship we have with Alistair, and our own relationships with our partners, we really feel we are able to give a lot more support to our clubs that we’d otherwise be able to.

Is it going well – any success stories?

The first thing we can be sure of is our team, who offer the first line of advice for clubs and facilities, is that they can go to partners such as Midstream with any challenges or issues they have. So I feel that our own team is being developed by these partnerships and that ultimately means the level of service to clubs is improving.

I think that in turn the partnerships can deliver things clubs need. Many clubs and organisations, like schools and universities, benefit from partners coming in and giving them advice and being on call. I think we’ve been able to work with partners to understand what the market needs. E.g. So working with Notts Sports and the FIH we’ve developed our Gen 2 programme. This is focused around giving clubs a choice away from the less environmentally friendly 3G surfaces that football is played on.

I think that these types of things are exactly what we want to strike up with partners like yourselves and deliver to improve our service and quality offering to our clubs and the hockey community.

Why did you choose Midstream Lighting?

Well firstly, it was a competitive process with other lighting suppliers in the mix. I think that’s healthy. It’s what business do. We were keen to find a company that shared our longer-term ambitions. That’s been key to developing relationships like the ones we have with other partners. We want to sustain a partnership for a very long time. We want partnerships that are built on the added value for both ourselves and our partners in the relationship.

I think that the discussions that were held with Midstream Lighting and our Facilities and Partnerships teams it was felt there was a good alignment with what we want to achieve. I think that was the most important thing for us. Midstream Lighting is our newest partner in the space but I think the ambition and ability to deliver shone through very strongly in the discussions.

Midstream Lighting - Official Lighting partner of GB & England Hockey

We want to build a brand awareness and trust within our community of our partners too. And so we wanted to make sure we were making the right choice. And the early days of this partnership is that there’s definitely the right intent on both sides of it – which I think is really positive to hear from the team.

How do you see Midstream Lightings role in supporting England Hockey?

I think firstly, from a direct perspective, the provision of lighting on synthetic pitches is mission critical. We’re a winter sport, people train in the evenings, matches are played through into the early evenings. So, in terms of maximising the capacity of facilities, lighting is vital and everybody needs it. The ability to provide that to clubs and give them good choices to allow them to ensure what is delivered is to a good standard and a good quality is essential. You can’t get away from the fact that we need lights and Midstream provides world-class floodlighting. A perfect match.

I think more broadly that the educational role that partners have around things like maintenance, choices, sustainability, and asset management are all things that add value and provide the support we need to give to our clubs and facility operators. We want to grow this and then we’d like to look, as the relationship develops, into more broad roles that MS can provide and play in the game.

Notts Sports, our sports surface partners, found a good way to operate in this space by building a brand relationship with clubs by supporting some of our programmes like Schools Championship. This gave them a good brand awareness but also gave them a chance to feel like they’re also really a partner with us on so many levels.

What are the challenges facing hockey clubs and yourselves at the moment?

One of the biggest challenges we faced came after the Olympics in Rio in 2016. Following our success there too many people were signing up to play. This meant many clubs needed to expand their capacity and facilities. It’s still a great challenge in the game for us as a whole.

The financial viability and sustainability of facilities, the ownership of facilities, the maintenance and standards of facilities are all at the heart of what clubs face every day and challenging. So it’s absolutely at the heart.

As I mentioned we’ve been, and still are, challenged with the conversion of pitches to 3G pitches where they need to be used for football.

But to move back to Midstream territory the quality of light at venues is a huge challenge. The maintenance of leisure centre contracts and the contracting out of facilities from local authorities is challenging where people are reaching the end of their contracts and don’t want to spend anything on improving things like lighting.

Generally in a university setting facilities are well maintained because of the budgets available. But when you’re talking about schools and local authorities, their budgets have been really squeezed in the last five to ten years. Despite the fact that many of our clubs have been paying £15,000 to £20,000 a year to rent out those facilities often they won’t have been suitably maintained. When you’re a leisure centre trying to keep a pool warm and the gym open, the outside space gets neglected.

So there are a huge amount of challenges we face and the more we can provide in the way of guidance, help, quick responses to challenges the better the game can carry on without getting interrupted.

How has COVID affected clubs and the sport? Do you think these partnerships can help?

Firstly we’re incredibly grateful for the support Sport England and UK Sports throughout the pandemic.

There’s no doubt COVID has ‘bitten’ everyone. We’ve come through it fairly well in the circumstances and our focus now is on recovery as much as anything.

But last season we cancelled all our league games and all our spectator events. We haven’t run a spectator event for two summers and the whole of last winter. So we’ve had a significant challenge there in terms of keeping the game going.

Our clubs have been amazingly resilient though. When they’ve been told they can play, they’ve got out there and played. We’ve given COVID guidance as quickly as we can and offered support.

In terms of the health benefits, physical and mental, the importance of people getting out there and playing team sports has been evident during this period. People have been desperate to get out there and clubs, particularly outdoor sports clubs like hockey, have when possible provided environments where people have felt safe.

We now need to concentrate the most on the opportunities COVID has presented to make improvements to the game. Improvements such as embedding our new governance changes and technologies we’ve invested in to help take the sport forward.

What’s that process going to be?

There’s a bit of waiting and seeing if there are going to be any more interruptions and how much this season will run normally. We’re all set up to run this season as usual. We’re out there selling tickets for events and trying to get the sport back on the go. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty about international travel for our international teams, there are concerns about whether there will be further restrictions and things like that. We are waiting to see on some of them and constantly having to adjust our plans as we have for the last 18 months. But feeling resilient and focusing on the opportunities now.

What is the future of hockey in England going to be?

One thing I can be sure of is that, from a grassroots perspective, the clubs are incredible and the health they’re in and the work they do continues to drive hockey forward. This will go on because there’s such an outstanding infrastructure of clubs. There are local challenges and local issues but the core of clubs have developed incredibly robust and strong plans and are extremely ambitious about how they want to progress their clubs.

The game is very strong at a grassroots level. It all starts with the grassroots and that’s where our focus is and should be.

We’re changing our talent programme too. So whilst we think we’ve had great international success, we think we can and we want to be even better. We’re looking to develop a slightly more club based talent model. This will be based on leanings we’ve taken from other team sports internationally, not just hockey.

We’ve got some really ambitious plans to keep moving the sport forwards and growing through to a sustained period of international success

Sports in your life

I went to a state school where you played a few sports, but not that many. We played a lot of basketball for example because the teacher liked it. So, most of my personal experience has been from joining sports and playing in the local community.

I grew up playing ball sports with some friends on the outfield of the cricket club my dad played at for the local working men’s club in the middle of Swindon. I’d even play for the Extra 2nd team when they were short of players.

When I was 13, I decided to try something different and got into hockey. I was hooked. I’ve played all through my school days right through to university. After university I played at my local club in Oxford where I ended up as chairman at a very young age. That’s the brilliant thing about hockey. It’s so inclusive. When I was fourteen and played for the 4th team in Swindon there was a guy in goal aged 78.

I personally feel strongly that sport in the community is really important. It’s where you meet people from different backgrounds. If you only play sports at school, you don’t end up with the memories and stories that will stay with you for a lifetime. Local clubs help develop communities and your own understanding of life.

And finally… how was the Olympics for you?

It was weird watching the Olympics being held from behind closed doors. When I was the Women’s International Team Manager, I went to the 2010 Commonwealth Games which was amazing. My current role though doesn’t require me to attend events like this in person though now.

I think it was very different and hard to be there in Tokyo for the athletes and everyone involved this time around. But they went there with the mindset that it was the right thing to do – which I think was the right approach to have.

The women’s hockey team now having won medals in the last three Olympics is unbelievable. As a nation, we rarely do well in team sports – outside of cycling. So, the team’s achievement is phenomenal.

Rich Beer Development Director, England Hockey
Rich Beer, Development Director at England Hockey

Light up the night, turn down the heat

To find out more about high-power LED lighting and high heat environments and to help you understand the issues you could face and how to avoid them you can download Midstream’s white paper for FREE here

Light pollution – what it is and how we combat it

One environmental impact of lighting that’s less talked about is caused directly by lighting itself – light pollution. So what is it?

When it comes to finding football floodlight funding – leave it to the experts

Football floodlighting funding – This short blog is essential reading if you’re looking for help with your floodlight funding.

The importance of facility partnerships for England Athletics

We’ve been working with England Athletics (EA) as its Official Lighting Partner for six months now. So, we’ve asked Ed Hunt, Facilities and Planning Manager at EA, to tell us more about the role partnerships play in the development of athletics in England.

High-powered LEDs and high heat environments – a white paper from Midstream Lighting

When it comes to LED lighting, high heat can present problem after problem. Do you know what these can be? What effect can they have on your lighting systems? And more importantly, what can you do to prevent them?

High Heat White Paper from Midstream Lighting

In high heat environments, where the daytime temperature is around 45ᵒC and it’s above 35ᵒC at night, your LED lighting systems could suffer from such issues as:

  • Lumen depreciation–if you’re in a sector that’s strictly regulated, like the Aviation industry, you ignore this at your peril because it could make your system non-compliant.
  • Colour shift – a big problem when you need colour recognition to be consistent across a whole working area.
  • Total light engine failure – the worst scenario where the only solution is to replace the whole fixture.
  • Power supply ageing – which can lead to a lot of maintenance and the costs that go with it.

To find out more about high—power LED lighting and high heat environments and to help you understand the issues you could face and how to avoid them you can download Midstream’s white paper for FREE here

27th July 2021

Light pollution – what it is and how we combat it

Electrical lighting is an amazing thing and has more than helped shape the world as we know it today. Just try to imagine your life without it. Difficult isn’t it?

If it’s not used wisely, however, it can impact the environment greatly. For example, it’s estimated that around 15-20% of the world’s electricity production is used to power lighting. This in turn leads to around 5% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

One environmental impact of lighting that’s less talked about is caused directly by lighting itself – light pollution.

So what is it?

One example of light pollution is skyglow. This type of light pollution comes about because things like street and building lights aren’t aimed just where they’re needed. Instead, a large proportion of their output goes directly, or is reflected, upwards and is scattered by the atmosphere – this virtually obscures anything above it such as the Milky Way and stars.

How we work to avoid skyglow:

  • All our lighting designs and installations seek to minimise this type of light pollution as much as possible. They never direct light straight to the sky – it would be a total ‘waste’ and compromise what we’re trying to achieve. So, all our products have shields that prevent this.
  • Our luminaires, with their proprietary lenses, are also designed to produce an even light, just where it’s needed, rather than an intense light in one area that would cause greater reflection up to the sky and add to skyglow.

As well as skyglow there are three other main types of recognised light pollution. These are:

  • Glare – excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort.
  • Light spill – light falling where it’s not intended, needed or wanted.
  • Clutter – bright, confusing, and excessive groupings of light sources.

You’ve probably experienced these on a personal level. The dazzle of an oncoming car’s headlights – glare. A neighbour’s garden security lighting shining in your home – spill. If you’re standing in somewhere like the middle of Times Square or Piccadilly Circus– clutter.

They can all happen with industrial lighting too. So in the rest of this short blog, we’ll focus on just these aspects, and what we as an environmentally aware, specialist lighting company do to combat them,

Industrial lighting glare:

Just the same as a car’s headlight glare can cause safety issues, industrial glare can too. Poorly configured aviation apron lighting produces significant safety problems for staff and passengers on the ground, and pilots in their planes. It’s the same for ports and maritime terminal lighting. If high mast crane lighting isn’t properly aimed, with the right shielding also in place, those working on the ground and the crane operators themselves can be affected by harsh glare and safety can be compromised. Glare can also be a problem with sports lighting – for the players, spectators, and broadcasters.

Our lighting Design and Engineering teams have years of experience in creating lighting solutions for airports, ports, and sporting venues. We’ve completed over 100 global airport projects and are the leading supplier of LED lighting systems for airport aprons. We’re also the preferred supplier to many of the world’s busiest and biggest port and terminal operators. We’re a leading sports lighting supplier too. So, we know more than anyone about how to create lighting solutions that minimise the risks of glare – in all applications and environments around the world.

How we prevent glare:

  • Our luminaires have been specially designed with glare in mind. Our Titan Series, one of our flagship products, is manufactured with our propriety optics which deliver maximum light levels on very precise designated areas. Plus, its asymmetric floodlighting provides an excellent solution for low glare applications. Our Modus R Series for sports venues has been designed to ensure low-glare, broadcast-ready, flicker-free lighting too.
  • We test, test, and test again. When we start a project – new build or retrofit – one of the very first things we do is to test our designs on paper to see where glare may be an issue. We then test our proposed designs using things like DIAlux software to make sure they’ll reduce any glare to an absolute minimum. We don’t stop there. Before we install a lighting system we test for any glare in-situ – at the points where it could make an impact. For example, at airports we make observation tests not just at ground level but also at the various heights pilots would be depending on the type of plane.
  • All our lighting installations and products are also designed to be as ‘future-proofed’ as possible. This means, for example, that if changes to the layout of an airport are needed we can easily add extra luminaires to allow for these changes without causing any increase in glare.
Industrial lighting spill:

This is less of a problem when it comes to airports and ports, as they’re usually situated away from urban areas. Sports venues, however, such as soccer grounds, are often found in the middle of cities and close to people’s homes. Poorly designed or installed venue lighting can spill a lot of harsh light – during matches and evening training. Just imagine what this would mean for you if it were shining in your bedroom when you needed to be at work early the next day.

Midstream light spill solutions:

  • Here again, our designers and engineers know exactly what to look for before they even put pen to paper.
  • Our Modus S Series, for sports applications, has been designed with specialty light shields to provide high uniformity as well as to specifically reduce light spill to provide an ideal solution for venues in urban areas.
  • We’re also experts when it comes to national and local lighting planning regulations. So we know:
    • Exactly what regulations need to be complied with.
    • When any additional planning permission is needed.
    • How to stay compliant if any things change later down the line.
Industrial lighting clutter:

This can be a problem almost anywhere if the lighting design is poor and too many light sources are involved. Let’s think again about somewhere like Times Square. Each of the illuminated advertising billboards is vying for your attention. To make their advert stand out, advertisers will ramp up their lighting to the maximum. Other advertisers then follow suit. The results in an excessive grouping of lights that can be hard to distinguish and can be confusing. Light clutter often causes glare issues and also adds to skyglow pollution.

An example of light clutter in an industrial setting can be found in port and terminal layouts. If a port’s lighting system were made up of a close series of lamppost high mast around the entire area with each holding a lamp that’s always lit and directs light straight in front it would produce light clutter. The same can be seen on poorly designed motorways, especially on their slip roads.

How we stop light clutter:

  • On the whole, our lighting solutions are housed on high masts – especially in ports and terminals. This helps prevent clutter from reaching anyone at lower levels – such as the road or the deck of a ship.
  • Also, even when they’re all on the same mast, our lights are positioned so as to not ‘compete’ with each other. Our lighting designs aim each luminaire slightly differently to create a uniform level of light across an entire area – thus avoiding clutter.
A quick summary of just some other environmental benefits LED lighting provides compared to traditional lighting
  • They’re much more efficient – they use much less electricity, so far less global warming CO2 is produced to run them.
  • They give a better quality of light and its distribution – so a lot fewer lamps are needed to cover the same area. This means less need to be produced which leads to environmental savings across the whole production to distribution chain.
  • As they last much longer, not as many need to be produced – giving the same environmental saving as above.
  • They can be controlled very easily and work with things like motion sensors. So, for example, if an area of a port wasn’t being used it can be left unlit and the lights only come on when someone is in that area. They’re also dimmable. Both of these can produce big energy and environmental savings that can’t be achieved with traditional lighting which can’t be dimmed or come on instantly.
  • Traditional lighting can contain environmentally harmful, toxic elements – these aren’t found in LED lights.
Hetty Leiwy, Bid Manager - Midstream Lighting

Hetty Leiwy, Bid Manager at Midstream Lighting.

March 22nd 2021

When it comes to finding football floodlight funding – leave it to the experts

We’ve asked Patrick Daly, one of our National Sales Managers, to give us his views on the role funding can play when it comes to football floodlighting. From where it’s available to the best ways to get it, this short blog is essential reading if you’re looking for help with your floodlight funding.

Please note: This article was written at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, some details/references may no longer apply.

In these difficult times, you may think the chance of getting funding for your sports projects would be less than zero. That’s not the case though. In fact, some of sports leading bodies and governments around the world are actually making more money available to help clubs and organisations be ready for when we all return to ‘normal’.

Some funds are being earmarked to help facilities futureproof themselves against other possible pandemics with things like improved hygiene and signage measures.

Other funds, grants, and awards – especially those that have been in existence for some years – are being given to venues for capital projects. This includes projects such as floodlighting, so clubs can come out of these times ‘fitter and healthier’ than before.

In this short article, I’m going to focus on the types of funding available to help improve football floodlighting. I’ll be looking at UK’s Football Association (FA) and Football Stadium Improvement Fund (FSIF) grants in particular.

Firstly, one of the main points I want to get across is you don’t have to face the arduous task of sourcing funding yourself. We’re experts at doing it and are here to help. We’ve done it for lots of our clients around the world. We can do it for you too.

So, what funding do the FA and the FSIF offer?

The FA, along with its funding partners the Premier League and Sport England, has invested substantial sums into football through the Football Foundation. A charity dedicated to improving the facilities infrastructure across grassroots football, it’s delivered over £780m of facility improvements across 1,600 projects over the last 20 years.

The FSIF on the other hand awards capital grants to clubs from the Football League down to the lower levels of the National League system. FSIF grants provide assistance towards a wide range of stadium projects including the construction of stands, installation of floodlights, turnstiles or even relocating to an entirely new ground.

Other types of funding are available. For example, if your project as a whole – including your lighting upgrade or new build – can be shown to have a significant positive impact on your community, local and national government grants can be awarded. The secret, or rather skill, is knowing where and where not to apply.

Another way some clubs have raised money for their projects is crowdsourcing. Whilst you may not be able to fund your whole improvement schemes this way, some bodies look very favourably on applications that have local community input and matched contributions.

Obviously, FA and FSIF grants are only available for football clubs to apply for. Similar schemes are available for other sports from organisations like the Lawn Tennis Association, the Rugby Football Union, and from Sports England as a whole. Local and national government grants can apply to almost any sport too as long as there’s a compelling reason for them being awarded.

Once you’ve decided what grants you’ll be applying for comes the task of making the application itself. As you’d expect, you can’t just go to a funding body and ask for money. You need to put together a solid business case to show why your project should be given an award. The easiest way of going about this is to talk to us.

Our Design and Engineering teams will carry out an assessment of your current lighting – if you have any. They’ll produce a free lighting design that will achieve your objectives. Together with this, we’ll help complete your whole application to include, where needed:

  • Payback times.
  • Local environmental impact information.
  • Help to identify which planning applications you’ll need to gain.
  • Case studies that can help your business case.
  • Details of how our 10-Year Sports Lighting Warranty will protect their investment for years to come.
  • We can also give you information about how you can part-fund your project with our financing plans.
  • Plus more…

Or you could choose to do it all yourself.

Find out how we’ve helped other clubs get funding.

Finally, why should you even consider LED floodlighting for your venue?

Upgrading your club’s lighting to a Midstream LED solution doesn’t just give you much better lighting. It’s been proven, time and time again, to improve performance on the pitch too. That’s not all.

  • LED floodlighting can save you upwards of 70% on your energy bills.
  • Our products are UK manufactured for the best quality – saving you money on maintenance costs and downtime as well.
  • We even offer a 10-Year Warranty to cover your club against the unlikely event of something going wrong.
  • You’ll be guaranteed world-class lighting for years to come. How? Our LED football floodlighting designs and solutions always factor in the need for any changes that may occur – such as being promoted to a new league with extra lighting regulations. So there’s never a need to ‘scrap’ everything and start all over. Our lighting solutions will also help make sure you comply with any governing body’s regulations.
  • With virtually zero light spill, you’ll be doing your bit for your environment and neighbours as well.
  • The list goes on.

Interested? Get in touch today and we’ll kick things off with a no-obligation chat.

Patrick Daly - Sales Manager Midstream Lighting

Patrick Daly, National Sales at Midstream Lighting.

March 19th 2021

The importance of facility partnerships for England Athletics

We’ve been working with England Athletics (EA) as its Official Lighting Partner for six months now. So, we’ve asked Ed Hunt, Facilities and Planning Manager at EA, to tell us more about the role partnerships play in the development of athletics in England.

Ed, what’s your role at England Athletics involve?

I support the UK’s stock of athletics facilities by providing guidance and support in terms of things like sustainability, maintenance, good practice. I advise on the design and build of new, innovative athletics and running facilities too.

I also manage TrackMark – UK Athletics’ facility accreditation scheme. Its aim is to make sure all facilities meet certain standards across key areas including safety, rulebook compliance, and accessibility. So, again, it involves giving advice and guidance to facility operators across the UK and pointing them in the direction of approved suppliers like Midstream.

What sorts of challenges are these facilities facing to reach these minimum standards?

Good question… To give some context, the vast majority of synthetic track and field facilities in the UK were built in the 1980s and early 90s. This means there’s a lot of facility stock out there that’s over 30-years old. Looking purely at the synthetic track surface of these aging facilities, they typically need to be resprayed every seven years and fully resurfaced every 25 years. In the UK we estimate that around 50% of track stock has not been resprayed or resurfaced for at least ten years. This is a big challenge, but one that we are starting to address with the TrackMark programme.

It’s not just about the track of course. We look at all the elements that make up the field of play for track and field athletics, and floodlighting is absolutely an essential part of that. Competitively we’re a summer sport, but we’re a participation sport all year round. To support the continued development of our sport we need 365 days a year floodlighting provision that meets minimum safety standards. However, akin to track surfaces, the floodlighting at many venues has reached, or past, its operating lifetime. Depending on what type of floodlighting it is, particularly old systems like Metal Halide floodlighting, it’s almost certainly not delivering the minimum standards needed across the whole track and infield.

Our ambition as a sport isn’t to build lots of new 400m tracks – in most areas of the UK we have good coverage already. Critically, it’s about bringing that 30-year old stock up to the right standards.

What role does EA play with, not only the athletics clubs but, the wider community too?

We’ve got a team of Club Support Managers who work very closely with our member clubs and the local communities. Their job is to support clubs and make sure members and visitors have a great experience when they visit the track. Volunteer clubs are the driving force of athletics and they do far more than just deliver track and field coaching programmes. They also reach out to the local community to offer opportunities for everyone – from school-based activity to Couch to 5k. The work that our member clubs do is incredible and forms the bedrock of our sport.

Lockdown has shown us there’s a real appetite out there amongst a lot of people to get involved with running and athletics. It’s an easy access sport – it’s outdoor, and at its most basic level all you need is a pair of trainers.

I remember presenting at a conference once and I asked the delegates what their personal barriers to participation in running were. Their answers were pretty universal. Safe, well-lit routes. I responded by saying that the vast majority of them lived within 20 minutes of their local running track – a safe, well-lit venue with a consistent, forgiving surface!

We’ve got to get people over the hurdle of thinking track and field facilities are purely domains of the elite. They’re not. They are there for everyone. That’s not just about how we market, brand, and sell them. It’s also about how they look and feel and how we present them. For example, do tracks always need to be multi-lane 400m ovals? Can we look at new, and different ways of attracting more people? As an example, my local club is a safe, well-lit place to run. It’s got a 400m standard track but also an 800m cinder track running around the perimeter. This is a great alternative for a traditional track and a facility that’s heavily used by those starting out on their athletic journey.

Looking at the facility partner programme itself, what was the premise for it, how is it working so far, and what are the benefits it brings?

Since TrackMark was introduced in 2018, we’ve seen a huge uptick in the number of track surface refurbishments, track repairs, and floodlighting repairs and upgrades. But, to take it to the next level, we felt it would be ideal to partner up with companies in each of these three key areas. We wanted and needed to find partners who shared our strategic view in terms of the importance of facilities and creating models of provision that are both inspiring and sustainable. Partners that could help us to educate, increase awareness, and unashamedly speed along our drive to achieve minimum standards across all venues. When you have a group of partners working in the same direction, you can pull ideas together and create ready-made solutions to support athletics facility operators and clubs.

It’s all about that shared vision and the synergy between us, and how as one we can move facilities forwards – old and new. Giving people easy access to that knowledge and information is vital in all walks of the business. These partnerships really help us connect with people. It’s helping venues feel safe in what they’re committing to. There’s a real feeling with them that ‘If England Athletics back this, it’s got to be okay.’. The way that our partners are working together, both to inform of opportunities and collectively provide solutions to problems has been brilliant.

Our overall goal is to create a network of local, accessible, sustainable, and inspiring facilities for every person in England. Wherever you live, you’ve always got a local place to go to. Not an ‘Olympic’ stadium necessarily – but somewhere to run, jump, and throw all year round. Lighting is integral to that.

Sustainability has to underpin every facility model. So, just jumping back to my role, some of what I do is making sure we have the right facilities in the right places, and for many areas a 400m track is not appropriate and/or sustainable. However, a synthetic, floodlit running loop around a playing field may provide a perfect solution for some local clubs and communities. Our ambition in the UK is that everyone is within a reasonable distance of some form of athletics facility. For that, as I’ve said, we need good lighting.

Can you tell us more about how important a role has lighting got in delivering that?

It’s got a hugely important role. One of the first questions I ask when working with a client on a new facility project is ‘Have you thought of your lighting?’. Firstly because it’s vital, and secondly because of the importance of gaining upfront planning consent.

The right floodlighting is absolutely essential. Sport England recognises this. We recognise this. If there’s no adequate lighting at, or planned for, a venue how can it function during the dark, winter months? How can you possibly continue and have a sustainable programme of athletics development if you only use it in the summer months? People want that safe, lit place throughout the year – including the winter. If there’s no lighting plan for a facility development, then it’s pretty much a nonstarter for us and Sport England too.

Aside from the whole sustainability requirement, good floodlighting also enhances the whole experience. Who doesn’t like sports under lighting – either as a competitor or spectator. I used to be an 800m runner and there was nothing like racing under lights at the end of an evening. It was always a special feeling.

We recently worked with you to produce your Athletics Lighting Guide. How important is the educational aspect to yourself and the venues?

Very important. There’s a mystique to lighting. Not enough people know a lot about it. They probably think that as long as the lights come on when they flick the switch everything must be working okay. But it’s important everyone knows about the minimum standards of things like uniformity and lux levels across a whole track and field.

The British Standards’ guidance and documents aren’t the easiest to read and understand. So, what we needed was to make things as simple as possible for operators and clubs. A single, straightforward guide that explained everything in a concise fashion that would help them understand the importance of good lighting in terms of safety and user experience. Something that would let them make their own, quick audit of their facilities easily. Our guide does exactly that. It was only brought out a couple of weeks ago and I’ve already had a lot of positive feedback from both venue operators and clubs. Even World Athletics asked me for a copy!

For me, this clearly shows that there’s an appetite for educational support like this. Anything we can do with you to educate and improve awareness of lighting has got to be a good thing. It’ll help to make sure that when venues are looking to build or improve their facilities, appropriate lighting is placed front and centre of the project because the venue will truly understand its importance.

How has COVID affected England Athletics, the sport, and clubs?

Ask me again in six months. Seriously though, there was a lot of concern when the pandemic started and lockdown #1 began last March. I guess like many other sports we wondered what both the short-term and medium-term impact would be.

Fortunately, akin to other sports like golf and tennis, we were deemed a ‘safer’ sport and were released relatively early from lockdown early last summer. This meant we were able to put on 300 competitions last year, unlike a lot of other sports. Club-managed venues were absolutely at the forefront of this success. Although small in number, only 10% of athletics facilities are club managed, they were trailblazing in terms of getting the doors open and getting athletes running, jumping, and throwing again as soon as we came out of lockdown. I’m sure it’ll be the same again this summer as we hopefully approach something that resembles normality.

The challenge then, and now, is that the majority of track and field facilities are either local authority, leisure trust, educational, or commercially managed – with larger indoor facilities such as swimming pools and gyms. Throw in the fact that many leisure/sports venue staff remain on the Government’s furlough scheme and this creates a real air of uncertainty about when all athletics track venues will reopen.

We’ve done alright though compared to other sports like swimming who’ve been totally locked down for over a year. As a sport, we’ve tried really hard to engage with our members and those interested in running and athletics and throughout lockdown. For example, we’ve used the power of the digital age to run webinars and create content that encourages people to stay fit and active and enjoy the benefits of our great sport. I’m sure that when the summer finally comes that we will hit the ground running. There’s a real desire at clubs to get on with things again. To get training, events, and competitions going – even if it’s just at a local level to start with.

In terms of capital improvement work, you’d reasonably anticipate there being a downturn in work. But surprisingly, and really positively, this has not been the case. Indeed during the past 12-18 months, there’s been a significant uptick in capital improvement works. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that many venues have used these lockdown periods to take stock of their facilities and plan much-needed improvement work.

What’s the next big milestone the athletics community looking forwards to?

The Tokyo Olympics is one obviously, fingers crossed, and what it’ll do for the profile of athletics. Personally, I genuinely think though that the most exciting milestone for the majority of people will be that first club night. After over a year of not training or socialising with fellow club members, and coaches it’ll mean the world for so many people – athletes, coaches, and parents. It will for me, and I can’t wait.

Tell us a bit about your personal athletics history.

I’ve been a keen runner since school. I started out in 800m and 1,500 and have gradually worked my way up to a marathon runner. In the 2000s I completed ten marathons, including London, Amsterdam, Dublin, and New York.

My marathon days are probably behind me now though. But never say never. If my son gets interested in running a marathon, then maybe just maybe I’ll run around with him. Although I’m sure it will be highly unlikely I can keep up with him. He’s six now and faster than me!

Ed Hunt - England Athletics

Ed Hunt, Facilities and Planning Manager at England Athletics

Midstream Lighting Official Lighting partners of England Athletics

Feb 15th, 2021

The Midstream Lighting & England Athletics Floodlighting Guide

Absolutely essential reading for athletics club’s facilities managers

As England Athletics’ Official Lighting Partner we’ve created a new, comprehensive Athletics Floodlighting Guide. It’s aimed at athletic clubs and their facilities managers and will help them understand more about the seemingly complex and daunting world of lighting.

We’ve asked James Brunt, our Director of Sports, to tell us more about the guide – why we’ve created it, what it’ll give club facility managers, and the importance of best-in-class LED lighting for athletics clubs. Here’s what he has to say.

Why we’ve created this guide

As pioneers of LED lighting from when we launched over 10 years ago, we’ve made it our mission to design and deliver world-beating LED lighting solutions.

That’s not all though.

As industry leaders, we see it as our responsibility to help educate different markets, such as sports, on what LED lighting can do for them.

That’s exactly what we’ve done with this guide for England Athletics. It also ties in perfectly with their strategic initiative to develop and improve facilities at clubs and venues across the country.

England Athletics Lighting Guide Midstream Lighting
What it’ll give athletics’ club facilities managers

Let me start by telling you what it won’t give them – a lot of impenetrable, scientific ‘mumbo-jumbo’. We’ve kept it all as clear and easy to understand as possible. Even when we’ve had to use an industry term, like Uniformity, we’ve explained what it’s all about.

What does it give then?

Basically, it’s been developed to give club facilities managers an introduction to track and field athletics floodlighting standards and how these standards relate to them.

  • They’ll learn what standards they need to achieve to be compliant with athletics governing bodies’ regulations. With different rules applying to different levels and types of athletics, it’s vital they know which apply to them. It also shows them how they can future proof their lighting for and changes that may happen, like moving up a league.
  • It gives details of the basic equipment needed to analyse, and have a better understanding, of their current floodlighting. Apart from an LED light meter, which only costs around £100 or so, the only other equipment they need is a tape measure, marker objects, a bit of board, and a pen. It really is that basic. It’s how it’s used that counts.
  • It features a step-by-step guide to allow them to easily self-assess their lighting levels around all their grounds. This isn’t as difficult as it may appear. But if they use the wrong equipment, take readings at the wrong time of day, or in the wrong places, all their work will be for nothing. So, the guide also highlights all the common mistakes they need to avoid.
  • Plus, it lets them know what they have to do to improve their lighting. If it’s needed.
Why best-in-class LED lighting is so important for athletics clubs

There are many advantages of improved lighting around athletics. The key benefits can be summarised as:

  • Reduced energy costs. We’ve cut energy bills by up to 70% for some clients when switching their old metal halide floodlights for LED ones. In a world where the bottom line is being squeezed harder and harder this can only be a good thing.
  • Less maintenance. With the cost of bulbs, the equipment needed to fit them, staff time and costs, not to mention downtime, maintaining traditional metal halide athletics floodlighting systems isn’t cheap. Another ‘plus’ for a club’s bottom line when they switch to LED floodlighting. Also, just imagine what it’d do for a club’s reputation if its system were to go down mid-meeting. This won’t happen with an LED system.
  • Greatly extended opening hours. Clubs will be able to keep their facilities open for longer. This can lead to increased revenue and help attract new members too.
  • Improved safety and security. Failing to meet health and safety regulations can cost clubs a great deal if there’s an accident that could have been avoided. Security issues can cause a host of problems for clubs too – personal and financial.
  • Making sure a club’s lighting is compliant with national and international regulations. If a club’s facilities aren’t up to scratch, especially the lighting, it can cause them all sorts of issues. They could mean removal from a league… records not being allowed to count… the list goes on.
  • Reduce light pollution. Our athletics LED floodlights spill less light around surrounding areas. This is something a club’s neighbours will greatly appreciate.
  • Future-proofing a club’s lighting for years to come. Our LED floodlighting systems are versatile and easily adaptable. So if things change, for example, new regulations being introduced or a club being promoted to a new league, our LED lighting can quickly be upgraded without the need to ‘scrap’ everything and start all over.
  • Achieving the lighting levels needed to host a televised event. If a club is invited to hold an event that’s going to be broadcast, it needs the perfect lighting to do it. This need can be built into our lighting designs for the very start. Or we can easily install a temporary, portable upgrade to meet the levels required.

As you can see there are lots of compelling reasons why an athletics club should upgrade to Midstream’s world-beating LED lighting.

James Brunt, Director of Sports, Midstream Lighting.

James heads up our Sports Lighting Division. With 16 years’ industry experience, spanning the delivery of grassroots facilities all the way through to world-class sporting stadiums, James is a trusted advisor throughout the industry and recognised for his unrivalled expertise.

Midstream Lighting