Sep 24, 2021

Meet Paul Milton – our latest ‘sports superstar’ signing

In this Meet the Team blog, we’re talking to Paul Milton, Midstream’s new Head of Business Development – covering sports in the EMEA region. With over 20 years working in the sports industry, you could call him our Ronaldo… he’d love that. Read on to find out why.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I trained as a mechanical engineer in the British Military, Royal Engineers in which I served nine years. After leaving the army I was recruited by the Caterpillar construction and mining equipment dealership in Saudi Arabia as a Product Support Engineer.

Three years later, when I returned to the UK, I worked for Nationwide Access as a sales manager in their large truck-mounted access division. Because of my engineering background, I was asked to develop a system where large mobile lighting rigs could be attached to our access trucks. This was needed as part of a new floodlighting contract between Musco Lighting, an American lighting company, and the English Cricket Board so Sky TV could broadcast the new format 20-20 cricket games in the evenings.

Having taken the lead in that project, Musco Lighting invited me to join them to set up a European office based in the UK. During my seven years at Musco, my team of 32 and I firstly built up their highly successful UK and Ireland divisions. I then also developed similar Musco operations in Eastern and Southern Europe.

In 2007 I was approached by GreenFields Sports Surfaces – a Dutch company – to set up their UK-based company. This arm of GreenFields was tasked with developing supply and construction turnkey solutions for the sports market industry. It was a great success. In the same way as Midstream has we grew the company by winning very prestigious projects as well as delivering solutions for grassroots sports clubs and other areas such as the education market. In 2016 the company asked me to take on additional responsibilities across EMEA. As the Commercial Director for the region, I built a development strategy across it with a key focus on new and emerging markets. After 13 years there I decided to take a year out to spend time with my family.

Why did you decide to join Midstream?

I was approached by Midstream at a time in my life when the correct role and company was essential for my career development and personal life. I’ve worked with the company before too, as a supplier to GreenFields, and was impressed by its outstanding professionalism and technical capability to deliver an extremely challenging project to an amazingly high standard. So, when I was offered the role at Midstream I was delighted to accept it.

How do you think Midstream differentiates itself from the competition?

The company clearly has a very positive trajectory of development in all its divisions driven by a true manufacturing and service support strategy. The sports market demands technical capability and delivery. I believe Midstream exemplifies this perfectly.

What is your role at Midstream and what excites you about it?

I’m Head of Business Development – EMEA – Sports. This role fits the development strategy at Midstream, and my personal goals perfectly. Having experienced consistent cultural change in my former positions, and given the sheer size of the region, the opportunities are immense and exciting too.

You’re used to working closely with partners, dealers, distributors – how do you plan to use this experience to help Midstream grow?

Developing long-term, strategic business partners is key to Midstream’s success. The sports industry is extremely close and relationships are often developed over long periods but maintained for even longer through the passion for sport. I’ve worked extensively throughout the EMEA region with partners and dealers who are linked to the same end project results. These long-term relationships will be invaluable for Midstream and its future business development.

What defines a good partner?

In my area of the business, a great partnership relies on trust, solid communications, a passion for sport, and supporting each other. Together these help you build strategic alliances and business relations that allow you both mutually grow your business in any given region

What do you do in your spare time?

I spend as much time as possible with my family. That’s the most important thing in life. I’m a Manchester United season ticket holder too – the second most important thing in life. Hence the comment about Man City. I’m also a keen skier.

Paul Milton, Head of Buisness Development EMEA - Sports

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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

The terminal of today: should we stop thinking so much about the technology of the future and focus on the technology of now?

To examine the maritime solutions out there that aren’t being used to their fullest we gathered together experts from the world of ports and terminals.

Protecting lives, reducing risks: how lighting holds the key to safer ports

The daily hazards faced by workers including moving vehicles, mooring lights and unloading and loading cargo. Minimising risk is therefore paramount for smooth, safe and efficient operations and the safeguarding of lives.

Meet Josh Elderfield – the latest addition to our sports team

In this Meet the Team we’d like to introduce you to Josh. A Sports Journalism graduate, athletics champion, and a B2B sales expert – we had to have Josh on our side.

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

Aug 18th, 2021

Meet Josh Elderfield – the latest addition to our sports team

In this Meet the Team we’d like to introduce you to Josh. A Sports Journalism graduate, athletics champion, and a B2B sales expert – we had to have Josh on our side. Read on to find out how he competed at the London 2012 Olympic Stadium long before all the world’s superstars.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I’ve always loved sports and I’m still a keen long-distance runner. I’ve another side to myself as well though and I studied Creative Media at college. So, when it came time to think about going to University I decided that a degree in Sports Journalism would be a great way to combine both of these loves.

After finishing my degree I stayed on at University, firstly as Vice-President of the Students’ Union and then as President.

When it came time to join the ‘real world’ again, a friend suggested I think about going into sales. If I remember rightly, they said ‘You’re personable, you like to talk, in fact, you never stop talking. Give it a go’. I did and haven’t regretted it at all.

The first job I applied for was at Virgin Media as a Field Sales Executive. My manager-to-be took a gamble and hired me, even though I had no experience. It was a gamble that paid off for us both.

After Virgin, I moved into B2B sales and worked in the fire and security maintenance industry.

A couple of years later I saw an advert for my ideal role, one that would allow me to mix my passion for sports and skills at sales. I applied straightaway, and that’s how I came to work at Midstream.

Why did you decide to join Midstream?

As I said, it’s my ideal role. I can draw on all my sports experience to start conversations and build relationships with people. For example, just mentioning the fact that I’ve competed at a venue before can open the door for me. Then, because the solutions we provide are so great and we can prove it, the sale is already on its way to completion.

How do you think Midstream differentiates itself from the competition?

I’m still fairly new to the world of lighting, but I can already see Midstream stands out from the competition because of the bespoke services we offer and the quality of our products. We invest a lot of time and money working with clients to make sure we get things right for them – first time. The fact that we have so much confidence in our products we offer clients a free 10-Year Sports Warranty is a fantastic USP too. Together they give us an edge over the competition that they just can’t match.

What is your role at Midstream and what excites you about it?

As Sports Sales Executive my role at Midstream is to find and develop new business for the sports side of the business. We want to help all sports grounds from grass roots right up to the big stadiums get the most out of their facilities with LED Lighting.
The next stage of my career here will be getting out there and visiting sites and clients. That’s what I’m really excited about and looking forward to. I’ve already been on a few site visits and really enjoyed them

What has been the most memorable project you’ve worked on?

This isn’t a project as such, but it still stands out as a memorable moment in my career.

A month or so after joining Virgin I wasn’t seeing any results. My older, more experienced colleagues were easily reaching their targets and finishing work at 5pm. I’d still be going door to door at 8pm wondering what I was doing wrong.

Then one evening, late at night, I made my first deal. The doubts vanished and I realised persistence and working ‘smarter not harder’ really do pay off. From that day I didn’t look back.

Fast forward a few months and I wasn’t just meeting my targets, I was exceeding them by 150%+. I was the highest performing salesperson and my colleagues were asking me what the secret of my success was. Obviously, this brought its financial rewards. It was more than that though. It was the satisfaction of knowing I’d come such a long way in a short time.

What’s your most memorable sporting moment been?

This is an easy one. I’ve had a certain amount of success running. I used to represent Kent in cross-country and track. I was the Kent County Schools Champion over 1,500m and 3,000m Steeplechase Champion. I was also ranked 89th in the UK’s top 100 over 3,000m. So I had a decent athletic career in my early years.

But one thing stands out so much higher for me.

I founded and ran the Huddersfield University Athletics Club for five years. In our second, year we were invited to compete at the National University Championships to be held at the newly-constructed London 2012 Olympic Stadium – before the Games took place.

We didn’t have the financial backing of the big sporting universities like Loughborough or Birmingham. So we had to raise the money for our 20 athletes to be able to stay and compete in London for four days. I organised all the fundraising events and logistics needed so we could take part.

To step out into what is an incredible stadium and to have been responsible for making a dream become a reality for 20 other students was such a satisfying feeling. Coming away with a medal was just a bonus.

What do you do in your spare time?

I still run and I’ve got two marathons coming up this year. I play the guitar too. I picked one up at the age of seven and I’ve never stopped.

Josh Elderfield, Sports Sales Executive at Midstream Lighting

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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.

January 20th, 2021

The State of Play: Covid-19 and the world of sports

To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust us all into difficult and uncertain times – personally and professionally – isn’t an overstatement. Far from it. Wherever you are, whatever you do, we’ve all seen our lives change dramatically. This is particularly true in the world of sports, especially team and major spectator sports where participation and footfall are essential to survival.

So we’ve asked Ross Baxter, our Senior Sports Advisor, to give us his view on what’s happening now in the sports world and what the future holds after COVID-19 has gone.

Ross, what are you seeing going on for sports clubs and venues at the moment?

If we were having this conversation a couple of months ago, my answers would have been very different. At that time, we started to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to governments around the world supporting clubs and venues, many had managed to get through the most difficult times. Restrictions were being lifted. Vaccines were on the way. Sport’s governing bodies were even starting to implement ‘return to sport’ protocols.

Then the new variants of the virus started to appear. This hasn’t plunged us right back to square one yet, but it’s driven us near it. So, again the focus for virtually all sports clubs and venues has been switched back to:

  • Having enough cash to keep their heads above water.
  • Making sure they’ve got a viable operation to come back to when a real ‘new normal’ kicks in.
  • They’ve got players, members, and supporters who want to return to them.

Indoor sports have been hit very hard by the pandemic. Social distancing rules have had a massive impact. That’s not all they’ve had to face though. A lot of indoor sports, like swimming and basketball, rely on local authority venues for training and events. These authorities are on the whole risk-averse and have closed their sites. This has left these sports with no way to generate any income at all. This means they’re facing great commercial pressures and may or may not stay afloat in the months to come.

Outdoor sports have also been curtailed due to social distancing regulations. For example, ticket sales revenue has disappeared for them. However, a lot of their outgoings – the day-to-day running and staff costs, utility bills, etc. – have been reduced. A lot of these clubs might be in a ‘let’s see what happens’ mode before they commit to any new plans.

Those clubs though that have been well managed and have capital reserves, or that have secured the financial help that’s out there, are still going ahead with projects.

Another big issue they’re having to face is getting planning permission. Local authority planning departments have, rightly so, been using all their capacity on COVID-19 restriction measures. This means fewer projects have been given the red light and there’s a huge backlog of requests waiting to get through.

Where projects are being planned, are there any additional things that need to be considered?

The fundamentals haven’t changed. The key things they still need to take into account are:

  • What facilities have we got?
  • What are their shortfalls?
  • How do we plug them?
  • What will we get out of completing this project – more players and spectators, more income, a safer and more welcoming venue?

ROI is still king. Though a really strong and robust emphasis on what is really needed, why, and what a project will deliver in terms of ROI is more crucial than ever. For example, with COVID-19, its variants, and any other future pandemics, clubs will be looking at whether the impact on the playing of sports can be mitigated in the future. Will investing in facility design, the flow of people around a venue, additional hygiene measures, and so on put them in a good place going forwards and lift these projects to the top of their priority list.

What will this mean for venue floodlighting in particular?

From a lighting perspective, when ‘return to sport’ protocols start to kick in again, it could be argued there will be a greater need for improved lighting. A lot of these protocols will focus on, amongst other things, continuing to have social distancing where possible e.g. at training grounds, with fewer people in a larger area.

Clubs will also be looking at ways to boost revenues. So they may be considering introducing new floodlighting to extend their opening hours and get more people using their facilities outside of normal playing hours.

Some of them will be looking at the added benefits LED lighting can bring. Benefits such as the ability to improve the spectator experience with LED light shows during the build-up and intervals at games, as a way to get more people to events.

Others will also be looking at the impact LED lighting can have on their cash flow and bottom line. The introduction of LED floodlighting has been proved to cut some club’s electricity costs by a huge 70%. That’s money that could be used for other club objectives such as increased hygiene measures. Or they can simply be ‘tucked away’ for another rainy day.

What’s happening with new lighting installations and retrofit projects?

For those that have the capital to keep projects moving, and have very little outgoings at the moment, now’s almost the perfect time to get things done.

  • There’ll be less happening and fewer people around. Which makes it easier and safer for the installers and the venue employees. So, a lot of clubs, schools, universities, and privately owned sites are bringing forwards projects they may have waited until the summer months for as usual to complete.
  • With less market demand, they may be able to negotiate a better price from contractors. Although, this could be offset by a rise in the costs of parts needed if they’re in short supply.
  • By their very nature, sports clubs thrive on activity. With little happening on the playing front, they may be switching their focus to what they can do with their facilities. Their volunteers, committee members, coaches, and managers will probably have more time to dedicate to this also.

These are just some of the sorts of reasons we’re still seeing projects taking place.

What lessons or fundamental changes do you think are to be learned from this crisis?

From a practical point of view, there will be lots of lessons to learn, particularly with things like hygiene across a lot of sporting clubs. The task of getting risk assessed and understanding how secure a facility is will really make clubs think about their approach in the future – a good thing in terms of fan, staff, and player welfare.

Clubs will appreciate, even more, how important it is to have a tight ship in terms of costs and understanding what’s most important for them. Those that entered this with very high outgoings and that weren’t as sustainable as perhaps they should have been will have had a sharp reality shock.

Those clubs that have always really understood, and had control, of what their outgoings were in terms of utilities, wages, and associated costs will be far better placed to move forward.

When it comes to facility planning itself, a lot of the process of thinking about how a club is presented to the public and how the public uses its facility has been highlighted more than it has been in the past. Clubs will really understand how important it is to have really strong links with the local community. They’ll appreciate how the community access it and see it as a safe and secure place, which will make a really big difference to how many people go and use it. This could be another reason clubs look to extend their opening hours and need improved lighting.

What about the future?

The big question is what ‘return to sport’ will look like. Many people will have found a lot of different ways of exercising and using their free time and space. So, it’s whether they will want to choose to play or volunteer in a sport that they did before. This will start to shape what club membership looks like and in some cases that will mean big changes are to come.

In terms of spectator sports, people have truly missed not being there to cheer their favourites on. I think in the short to medium term, and hopefully beyond, this will mean clubs and venues will probably see a boost in gate numbers. Players have missed spectators too – so that will help inspire them further again.
The next six months or so will obviously move things on. As vaccines are being rolled out, it will be interesting to see how quickly sports participation re-establishes itself. Whilst it’s happening, ‘lone sports’ like golf will still be to the fore in terms of exercise, with multi-participant sports following behind. From a spectator point of view, we’ll need to see how willing people are to go a sit next to a stranger while vaccination programmes are being rolled out.
One thing sports clubs and venues need to remember though is that probably the majority of people who take part in sporting activities will be lower down or last on the vaccine priority lists. This will mean these sports and venues will lag behind other aspects of life when it comes to getting back to a semblance of what they were before.

For some clubs and local authorities, that have teetered along in the current climate, the impact of vaccines will come too late. What happens to their venues, who will snap them up, and what will they use them for could see some local sports suffer greatly.

I truly hope it doesn’t happen, but if we have to continue down the path where sports must be played in smaller groups in larger areas there will be opportunities arise for facility providers like us. I think we’d all prefer to see life ‘on and off the pitch’ return to what it was, however.

One thing is certain though. There’ll be a lot of new things for us all to get used to from now on.

About Ross Baxter: Midstream’s Senior Advisor – Sport

With over twenty years leading sports facility planning, design, and delivery – in the public, private, and voluntary sectors – Ross brings a huge amount of significant knowledge to our team.

At Midstream he works to promote, design, and deliver LED sports floodlighting projects to end-users either on a new build or retrofit basis.

A highly experienced senior leader and programme manager, Ross thrives on improving performance, identifying opportunities, and developing innovative solutions. Previously, as the Head of Facility Investment at the Rugby Football Union Ross delivered clubhouse, floodlighting, and pitch projects valued at over £300m. During his time there he was instrumental in creating a series of innovative commercial supplier and consultant frameworks.
When not working, Ross is a Rugby Union Level Four coach and mentor.

Recent Sports Blogs

November 18th, 2020

Lighting the way for England Athletics

Midstream Lighting has been appointed as the Official Lighting Partner of England Athletics. So, we’ve asked Michael Short, Head of Marketing at Midstream, to tell us more about how this partnership started and what it means for both England Athletics and Midstream.

Midstream Lighting Official Lighting partners of England Athletics
Hi Michael. How did this partnership with England Athletics begin?

England Athletics was looking to build a group of partners to help them with their strategic vision of increasing standards and improving facilities across their 1,400 affiliated clubs. They didn’t have a lighting partner, so we approached them. And from the very first meeting, it was obvious there was a perfect fit between us.

Why was that?

We don’t enter into partnerships lightly. We believe for them to work both organisations need to have values and goals that really align. That was definitely the case between England Athletics and us. We both have integrity as an important value – it’s our first. And a culture of learning and development is very close to both our hearts.

What will Midstream be bringing to England Athletics?

One of the objectives of this partnership is to educate and support all the England Athletics’ facilities across the country – from the grassroots to the elite. So, we’ll be offering the entire England Athletics community a host of webinars, in-person training, and supportive guides so they can understand exactly what we as a team can achieve. That’s not all. They’ll also be able to take advantage of our lighting health checks, consultation services, advice on financial support and grants, plus lighting designs for their clubs – all for free.

Our core benefits, such as vastly cutting energy and maintenance costs, and future-proofing venues for years to come, will help them free up money to invest in athletes’ performance too.

Improved lighting will also mean clubs can get more people participating all year round at all times of the day, including at night. And it’s been shown time and time before that better-quality club facilities help improve performance.

What will this mean for Midstream in return?

Obviously there will be potential business opportunities that develop through this partnership. But it means much more than that for us as a whole. As well as working on major sporting projects, we’ve got a great deal of experience working at the grassroots level. A lot of the team here have experience playing at that level too. And for us, this partnership will allow us to work closely with an organisation that’s taking athletes from the grassroots right through to the Olympics. To be able to support these clubs and see the results of the work we’ve done coming through is going to be so exciting and highly rewarding.

Michael Short, Head of Marketing, Midstream Lighting.

Michael has over ten years’ experience in successfully helping businesses within the luxury, technology, digital, automotive, and finance markets to thrive and grow. Well versed in lead generation campaigns, re-branding, implementing technology and growing teams, Michael is an innovative and results-driven marketer – accustomed to running marketing divisions internationally. He’s no stranger to change and loves a challenge.

He now oversees the strategic direction, generation, implementation and distribution of all marketing and communications for Midstream Lighting. Providing the highest level of marketing quality, Mike leads from the front and is key in launching our bespoke products that are changing critical infrastructures all over the world.

November 4th, 2020

The lights come on at AFC Wimbledon’s ‘new’ home – thanks to Midstream

James Brunt, Sports Director.

November 3rd 2020 was a historic day for AFC Wimbledon. After an absence of over 20 years the Dons, as they’re known, were able to return to Wimbledon and host the first match at their newly built Plough Lane stadium.

Wimbledon FC – not to be confused with AFC Wimbledon – played at the Plough Lane stadium for over 80 years. However, in 2001, a consortium of businessmen persuaded them to relocate the club to Milton Keynes – over 60 miles away. And they changed their name to Milton Keynes Dons FC. A large number of fans weren’t happy with this move and decided to launch a new club and start all over again at the bottom of English football. AFC Wimbledon was born.

Even though they couldn’t play at Plough Lane any longer and had to share grounds with Kingstonian FC and QPR, the fans stuck with them. Their loyalty was quickly rewarded. AFC Wimbledon was promoted six times in thirteen seasons – taking them from the ninth tier to the third – League One. They also hold the record for the longest run of unbeaten English senior team league games – 78 from February 2003 to December 2004. They’re the first club formed in the 21st century to make it into the Football League too.

AFC Wimbledon Logo

“This project has held a special place in my heart though. Seeing the lights go on! Incredible”

Here at Midstream Lighting we handled the whole lighting project for the new Plough Lane stadium something we’re immensely proud of. For me when you work on any project and you’re there to see your hard work come to life it’s always a moment to be extremely proud and this was no exception.

This project has held a special place in my heart though. I’ve been involved in it for over five years now, initially working with architects and consultants on the design concepts for the new stadium. And to see it all the way to through completion and the incredibly loyal ‘Dons’ fans return to their spiritual home – albeit ‘virtually’ for now because of COVID-19 – has been a wonderful journey. The new stadium will also have a huge impact on the regeneration of the local area. So knowing that is really rewarding too.

“Collaboration has been imperative on this project”

As this has been a totally ‘newbuild’ project there have been a lot of different companies we’ve collaborated with. World-renowned architects KSS, who has worked on many major sports stadia globally, was responsible for the overall design and involved us from the very early concept stage. The main contractor was Buckingham Group – who we’ve worked with often before. And the M&E contractor for the project was Front Five Building Services.
I think it’s fair to say together we made an amazing team, and the results speak for themselves. (Thanks to everyone involved).

“Always on time, on spec and on budget”

We designed, manufactured, and installed the whole LED lighting for the project including the installation of two 25m masts. To provide the lighting levels required for League One we used 52 of our proprietary Modus R Series floodlights. A lightweight, extremely versatile, high powered series, the Modus R has been designed for both retrofit and newbuild sports stadia projects. And it delivers low-glare, broadcast ready, flicker-free ready LED lighting.
Our in-house lighting design team also future-proofed the whole solution so that if, or we should say when, the Dons get promoted to the Championship League the system can be quickly upgraded to meet the lighting levels needed there too. And of course, as we do with every Midstream project, we delivered it on time, on spec, and on budget.

As soon as you get the chance, head down to Plough Lane and see the power of LED sports lighting in action. You’ll also be guaranteed to see some great action on the pitch too.

Come on the Dons!

AFC Wimbledon - Football 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.

Recent Sports Blogs

Midstream Lighting