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Lighting for sporting facilities makes it possible to extend their use throughout the day, from the evening and into the night, and this in order to meet the growing demand for sporting activities

Nowadays, sport can be defined as recreational time spent on various individual and collective activities that involve people of all ages, economic status and social class. But sport is also considered to be a competitive event that attracts thousands of people, is filmed for television and broadcast to fans all over the world: it's a mass public event with the participation of professional athletes involving commercial interests of enormous size and scope through advertising, sponsorship and various promotions.


The practice of cultivating one or more sports is widespread among young people but also among middle-aged and older people. For many of these people, the main problem is how to reconcile, within the arc of a day, their working hours with the time they have available to dedicate to their sporting passion. Many athletes, or aspiring athletes, use sports venues in the evening or during the hours of night. Hence the need for artificial lighting.

In sports/entertainment, artificial lighting makes the intensive use of sports facilities possible. By scheduling competitive events during the evening and at night, it is possible to multiply the events and improve the quality of the offering. In this context it is obvious that the functions to be performed by artificial lighting are complex. Illumination is required, primarily, in order to allow athletes to physically perform to the best of their ability, but also so that the public is assured clear and comfortable viewing, and finally, for television and film shoots have to record bright scenes at the level of quality required by the filming equipment.


In view of this complexity, it is necessary to draw up a specific project to address the lighting requirements of sports facilities and complexes. The first priority is to offer good viewing for various subjects, namely:

  • athletes, players, participators;
  • the referees together with the judges and those responsible for monitoring competitions or the correctness of athletic performances;
  • the audience present at an event and the vast spectator audience following via the medium of television.

In summary, the main evaluation parameters contemplated in the UNI EN 12193 Standard  “Light and lighting – Lighting of sports installations”, in the CONI (Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano [Italian National Olympic Committee]) Standards, and in the FIGC (Federazione Italiana Gioco Calcio [Italian Football Federation]) indications (for football) are:

· horizontal illuminances Eh (minimums, maximums, averages);

· vertical illuminances Ev (minimums, maximums, averages);

· point uniformity of horizontal and vertical illuminances U1 = Emin / Emax;

· general uniformity of horizontal and vertical illuminances U2 = Emin / Emed;

· glare rating GR;

·  colour temperature TK;

· colour rendering index Ra;

The controlling of illuminance, illuminance uniformity and glare rating ensures visibility and visual comfort. Colorimetric parameters, such as colour temperature and the colour rendering index are especially important for television broadcasting.

The recommendations specify the illuminance values based on the size of the sports facility. For football matches, lux values range from 250 to 800 lux with a uniformity between 0.5 and 0.7. For television broadcasts, values of 1000–1500 lux are required.

Illuminance uniformities are particularly important. With illuminance uniformities of more than 0.5 areas of differing brightness are avoided. Uniform light distribution allows the audience to follow the athletes’ performances throughout the playing field. Players must reach and maintain a high degree of concentration throughout the competition with a perfect view of the entire pitch.

In conclusion, given the numerous evaluation parameters, the lighting design for sporting facilities requires an enormous amount of effort, as well as a vast number of photometric calculations. With this in mind, we recommend the use of calculation and rendering software to support the design process.

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