How much does LED Football Field Lighting cost?

led football field lighting

If you are in a hurry…

A modern LED football field lighting system offers numerous advantages for schools, clubs, players and spectators. Whether it’s high school or professional sports, an LED floodlight system enhances a sports field. Matches under the lights are a special experience for players and spectators. But even independent of the experience factor, an LED floodlight system offers numerous advantages. The cost of LED football field lighting ranges from $170,000 – $880,000, depending on whether the existing sports facility infrastructure (poles, cable lines, etc.) can be used.

In addition, the illumination level plays a decisive role in the cost. If the football field is used professionally, the lighting intensity is very high compared to a training field, thereby increasing the price. In addition, regional price differences for the construction or retrofit of the LED floodlight system, as well as product quality and illuminance, play a key role in determining the final cost. Here you can find out what you should look out for when buying. 

Table of Contents

Football field lighting layout and design

Football Field dimensions

The gridiron never changes. From Pop Warner to the NFL, a football field is a football field. Admittedly, it can be a bit ridiculous sometimes to see little kids scurrying around a field 100 yards long and 53.5 yards wide, but they grow into it!

The only real differences in football fields across levels are the locations of the hashmarks. As you move up from high school to college to pro football, the hashmarks move towards the center of the field. But other than that, it’s always the same 100 x 53.5 yards, plus the 10-yard end zones with the goal posts centered behind them.

Unless, of course, you go north of the border to Canada, where they have two 50-yard lines and put the goalposts ON the goal line! What a world we live in!

Height and position of the LED floodlight fixtures and poles

Since football fields are all the same size, the main design consideration for the number of light poles you’ll need is how bright the field needs to be. You can provide minimum levels of uniform light coverage for a recreational or high school field with four light poles. High schools with large stadiums or that are broadcast on TV or streaming may opt for six poles, as most colleges do. Large colleges and pro stadiums, then, will have eight poles plus any other fixtures on the stadium itself.

Football fields have an equal number of poles on each side of the field to eliminate shadows. With four poles, there will be two at or near the end zones. If you increase to six poles, the additional poles will line up with the 50-yard line. And with eight poles, most stadiums will place one at each end zone and one around each 30-yard line.

For lighting quality and safety reasons, floodlight poles are positioned always 50, 75, or 100 feet outside of the playing field. Therefore, it is essential to check beforehand if the stadium or football ground has the required space around the playing field to set back the light poles as.  

Football lights 4 poles
4 poles
Football lights 6 poles
6 poles
Football lights 8 poles
8 poles

When it comes to the height of the light poles, there is no one size fits all number to give. Since football lights are designed to illuminate a large sports field the lamps have to be installed high. For a high school field the correct height might be around 50-70 feet and for a college or professional football field as high as 250 feet above the playing surface. 

LED Football lighting fixtures

Beam angle (3)

Generally speaking football fields and stadia tend to use LED lighting fixtures with an output of around 500W-1000W. 

LED lights are the best for Friday nights and any other day of the week. LEDs have all the qualities that players, coaches, administrators and broadcasters insist upon for player safety and performance, cost efficiency and fan experience.

We’ll get more into those benefits below and in the other articles in this section. But as a quick run down, LED lights cost less to operate than conventional halide or halogen lamps. 

They produce very little glare, which helps the players see the ball and each other at the speed of play: a wide receiver won’t lose the ball in the lights while running a route, which means he has a better chance of a completion and of having the awareness to avoid a tackle. 

The low glare also looks better on camera and minimizes light pollution, which will be important to the administrators and community stakeholders. 

Finally (well, for now), LED lights are very easy to control. The coach or team manager can turn on just the lights they need for night practices throughout the week, turn on some more lights for the JV game on Thursday night and then blast the full panel for the weekend games.

Lighting uniformity considerations

With two poles 100 yards apart on each side of the field, you might be wondering about how much light your players will have at the 50-yard line. That’s a great concern to have, and it’s why it’s so important to have a professional lighting designer as part of your facility construction team.

At every level of play, every square yard of the field needs to have the same level of brightness. Players can’t be throwing and running into darkness and then into light as they drive downfield.

Beam angle

The beam angle and the angle of projection are the two calculations a lighting designer will make to meet the necessary luminance standard. The beam angle is the angle the light makes as it radiates out from the lamp. Think of it as going from a spotlight, which has a narrow beam angle, to a floodlight, which sends more diffuse light over a broader area. 

Luminance levels decrease as light diffuses away from its source. Lighting fixtures that need to illuminate a wider area – think of the “inside” lamps on those poles at the end zones – need a larger beam angle. But they will also need to be stronger, since the same amount of light needs to cover a larger area of the field. 

The angle of projection follows from the height of the light pole and how far back from the field it is. If the light pole is right behind the team area on the sidelines – as would be the case with a rec field, practice field or smaller high school field – then the angle of projection will be very low (very acute). If the light poles are behind the bleachers, then they will have a slightly higher angle of projection. Typically the beam angle used at football fields is between 12 – 60 degrees. This angle ensures that the playing area is well lit at all times and there is minimal spill light outside of the field, which can annoy neighbours or traffic around the football ground. 

Those are top-down considerations. But we also need to consider angle of projection from the ground-up: the players’ perspective. 

The position of the poles and the angle of projection – the horizontal and vertical components – must account for the players’ sightlines. The lamps cannot be somewhere that the players will be looking straight into them – basically staring up into the projection angle – during the game. That would be a hazard for both player performance and safety.

led floodlight beam angle

Another key metric in football field lighting uniformity is the min/max ratio. It measures how well the lighting is distributed across the field of play i.e. what is the maximum and minimum amount of footcandles present in the same area. The result is a ratio between the minimum and maximum values. A min/max ratio of up to 3.0 is considered to be evenly distributed lighting without shadows or hot spots. The required level of min/max ratio depends on the level of play. For high school football, a ratio of 2.5 or below is acceptable, whereas, for college and professional football the ratio needs to be below 2.0.

Ideal color temperature for a football field

One final (again, just for now – there are plenty more) technical consideration is the warmth of the light. Think about the stark white lights you encounter at the doctor’s office, or maybe your own office. Those are “cold” lights. They’re not very inviting and they’re not very natural. You and your eyes just feel better when you step outside or into a different room.

Warm lights feel – not by temperature, just by… feel – warm. When we’re talking about light warmth, warm lights are in the 2000-3000K range while cold lights are 4000K and higher. You can ask the lighting consultant about why we call it “warmth” and what those units are, or check out this article. At the end of the day, football stadiums and fields should always use warm lights: they are better for the players, the fans and the cameras. 

Football field lighting standards and requirements

Football field lighting levels

LED technology is popular and used in sports facilities worldwide. LED floodlighting provides consistent illumination of sports fields and spectator areas. This holds, as well, for LED lighting on indoor playing fields.

There are many arguments  in favor of LED lights. Atop the list  are the long service life, better efficiency and clear visibility. Although an LED floodlighting system is somewhat more expensive to purchase, in the long run it saves on operating costs associated with sports field lighting.  LED also offers first-class quality. All surfaces are evenly illuminated, and glareis avoided.

LED floodlight systems also  reduce light pollution. The light goes where it is needed: onto the playing field. By not  shining or diffusing in other directions, residents or motorists are not affected by stray light. Similarly, LED is also ideal for lighting parking lots and pedestrian walkways around the stadium.

Sports Lighting: Classification of Play

Sports Facility Class I Class II Class III Class IV
Illuminance
100 fc. / 1,000 lux.
50 fc. / 500 lux.
30 fc. / 300 lux.
20 fc. / 200 lux.
Professional Sports
x
College Sports
x
x
Semi-Professional
x
x
Sports Clubs
x
x
x
Amateur Leagues
x
x
x
High School
x
x
x
Training Facilities
x
x
Elementary School
x

Thorough analysis of the sports facility situation

Especially if you want to equip an existing sports facility with an LED floodlight system, it is important to thoroughly analyze the existing situation. Within the scope of a photometric study, the size of the playing field and, if applicable, the existing lighting equipment such as light poles are taken into account. Based on these factors, a lighting concept is developed that provides uniform illumination and meets the lighting system requirements of the governing associations.

IES lighting standards: recommended illumination levels for football fields

Football Class of Play Lux Foot candles
I
1000
100
II
500
50
III
300
30
IV
200
20

As you can see from the table above the correct illumination level depends on the level of play and the number of spectators that can attend an event. These are the official IES standards for sports lighting: 

  • Class I: Professional or college level (over 5.000 spectators)
  • Class II: College or high school level (up to 5.000 spectators)
  • Class III: High School or recreational level (up to 2.000 spectators)
  • Class IV: Recreational or training (limited or no spectators)

From college level upwards football games are considered major sporting events, with tens of thousands of spectators. The games are played at large stadia and are often broadcast in high definition, which raises the illumination requirements drastically. 

College football is generally a major event and is often televised, which means that there are often over tens of thousands of spectators. A large stadium and an equally large crowd increases the recommended amount of footcandles substantially. 

Summing up football field lighting requirements for different levels of play

  • High school football field lighting requirements:
    • Area of playing surface: 57.600 sq ft
    • Lux needed: 200-300
    • Foot candles needed: 20-30
    • Min/max ratio (uniformity): 2.5 or less
  • College football stadium lighting requirements:
    • Area of playing surface: 57.600 sq ft
    • Lux needed: 500-1000
    • Foot candles needed: 50-100
    • Min/max ratio (uniformity): 2.0 or less
  • Professional football stadium lighting requirements
    • Area of playing surface: 57.600 sq ft
    • Lux needed: 1000
    • Foot candles needed: 100
    • Min/max ratio (uniformity): 2.0 or less

Request a photometric study to avoid surprises

So you have scoped out your lighting project, made a plan for executing each and every step of the project and set a clear schedule for installation and delivery. What happens if after the lighting system is up and running you find out that the lighting levels are not of the required standard for your football stadium or field? To avoid this type of panic scenario professional lighting construction companies normally prepare a photometric study. This analysis is done with special CAD (Computer Aided Design) software.

You input all the details of the football field and the lighting system (dimensions, height, no. of poles, output of luminaires, beam angles, etc.) and the software renders a 2D and 3D simulation of your lighting system design. You can easily find out beforehand if the lighting quality of the system is good enough for your needs. 

Advantages of an LED football field lighting system

Extended usage times of the sports facility

For training and games at all levels, LED floodlighting allows longer usage times, especially in the winter. The increases the revenue generating potential of the facility and satisfies all potential users.

Safety for football players and spectators

High-quality lighting improves visibility. Players can recognize potentially dangerous situations earlier and avoid the risk of injury; and spectators also feel safer and have a more enjoyable experience at a well-lit facility.

Television broadcasts 

For higher-tier games up to the professional leagues,  impeccable lighting performance is a prerequisite for high-definition broadcasts and sports photography. Uniform lighting prevents distracting shadows and dark spots on the field.

How to estimate football field lighting installation cost?

If you have reached this far, you should be aware that there’s a long list of factors influencing the final cost of installing a new LED sports lighting system for your football ground. Because of the myriad of reasons affecting the price tag we are willing to go as far as giving a broad ballpark estimate of $170.000 – $880.000. So any way you look at it, installing new LED floodlights for your sports ground is an important investment decision. As a first step we recommend that you run our football field lighting cost calculator to get a project cost estimate. If you wish you can also request to be contacted by some o the leading sports lighting companies for further information. 

Here’s a handy checklist that you can use when scoping the size of the project and estimating the cost with the sports lighting construction company:

  • Can existing infrastructure (light poles, cabling, wiring) be used for the new LED lights?
  • What is the level of competition of the main users of the football field?
  • How many spectators attend the games?
  • Will football games be televised?
  • How many poles are needed for optimal illumination?
  • What is the required level of wattage for the lighting fixtures?
  • Is there enough space around the football field to install light poles considering 50,75,100 feet of setback?

 

How much does it cost to operate LED lights for a football field?

When building and operating a football field or stadium, sports facility lighting is an important consideration. This is true both in terms of the initial cost of the LED floodlight and the cost of electricity and maintenance.

When purchasing a new LED floodlight system, the costs differ depending on the manufacturer and model. However, the follow-up costs should already be considered at this stage. For example, an LED floodlight consumes about half as much electricity as lighting with halogen lamps. The latter, for example, consume 70,000 watts to generate 300 to 400 lux. An LED floodlight for the sports field, on the other hand, uses only 35,000 watts.

Maintenance costs also drop with LEDs. Their service life is significantly longer than that of metal halide lamps. LED lights are waterproof, heat-resistant and shockproof. This means fewer replacements and repairs, which means less costs for equipment, labor and down time.

High school vs college football field running costs

Running costs of a lighting system at a football stadium or field is a combination of electricity costs and maintenance costs. Thanks to the long lifespan of LED lights the maintenance costs are close to zero. Electricity costs, on the other hand, can be calculated from the total wattage needed for the football ground and the electricity price per kilowatt. 

The amount of wattage needed depends on the area that needs to be illuminated and the level of play. As explained before, the higher the competition level, the more lux, and wattage are needed. 

Here’s a comparison between the running costs of a sports lighting system for a high school football field vs college football field:

High school
  • Field/area size (sq ft): 57.600
  • Lux needed: 200-300
  • Wattage needed: 12.000-18.000W
  • Average electricity cost per kwh: $0,12
  • Electricity cost per day (8 hours): $11,52-$17,28
  • Electricity cost per month: $350,64-$525,96
  • Electricity cost per year: $4207,68-$6311,52
College
  • Field/area size (sq ft): 57.600
  • Lux needed: 500-1000
  • Wattage needed: 30.000-60.000W
  • Average electricity cost per kwh: $0,12
  • Electricity cost per day (8 hours): $28,80-$57,60
  • Electricity cost per month: $876,60-$1753,20
  • Electricity cost per year: $10.591,20-$21.038,40

As you can notice running costs for sports field lighting systems can take up a meaningful chunk of the overall budget, which is why it is important to run the calculations already at an early stage of the project. However, compared to traditional metal halide or halogen lamps, going with LED will save you 50-75% in electricity costs and a whole lot of hassle and time when it comes to maintenance and changing light bulbs. 

Read more about why LED lighting systems are perfect for high school football fields. 

Funding and financing an LED football field lighting system

As part of your budget planning, check whether it is possible to apply for lighting grants for the purchase and installation of an LED floodlight system.

Federal, state or municipal funds are often available for this purpose. After all, floodlights enhance the football field because it can then be used more in the evening hours and during the darker months of the year.

If your club or school still lacks money to finance sports field lighting, tap into the parents, students or club members to launch a fundraising campaign.  Individuals from the community, former players and alumni can therefore get involved in the effort.

Football field lighting companies

Remember those times we said “for now” or “ask the lighting designer?” Well, now’s your chance to really get into those details. 

Run your project specs (at whatever level of detail you have) through our cost calculator to get an estimate of how much a new lighting system for your football field will cost. Then, if you want to have those extensive conversations, we can connect you with lighting designers and vendors who specialize in things like beam angles and light warmth for sports facilities. They’d be happy to talk all about whatever you have in mind.