A recent New York Times feature in the business section highlighted smart lighting decisions that could soon take place at sports facilities around North America. Ken Belson’s article, which features the Bell Centre in Montreal among other professional venues, shows how a professional (or college) team can save money and reduce its environmental footprint by turning toward energy-efficient solutions to illuminate a facility.
Recently the Bell Centre, home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, replaced all its lighting from high-intensity discharge to LED fixtures. The new lighting, which produces three times the light per watt of energy compared to the former technology, will save the arena an estimated $125,000 per year in electricity costs, parts, and labor. Alain Gauthier, who runs the facility, said that the installation should pay back the investment in just two years. “I wanted to be a front-runner,” Gauthier would say about the retrofitting.
The trend has not yet fully run through arenas, initial costs being the most prohibitive factor toward the conversion toward more efficient lighting. “Definitely, there are some long-term savings,” said Sean Langer, director of operations at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Ky., home of University of Louisville basketball. “But we have to ask, what is the return on investment? Seven to 10 years is a hard pill for my boss to swallow.”
Sports leagues are continuing to study LEDs and are gathering the opinions of players, referees and broadcasters. Many sports lighting experts suggest that, as the prices continue to fall, LEDs will be adopted more widely as performance lighting.