The big game today will be the first ever Super Bowl illuminated by LEDs instead of traditional metal halide lamps. University of Phoenix Stadium — home of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl XLIX — was outfitted with the LED fixtures last year. Since LEDs are brighter than the old lamps, only 312 units were needed to replace the 780 metal halide lights that were originally installed in the stadium. The new lights also use 75 percent less energy, and they should last at least 20 years — far longer than the old lights that required maintenance every few seasons.
Brighter and whiter
But the lights are changing more than just corporate bottom lines. If you haven't watched a Cardinals game this season, you might notice a difference in the lighting quality. It might take a keen eye to notice, but despite using fewer than half as many lighting units, the light output onto the field is brighter and whiter than before. You'll also see that the strobe effect during slow-motion replays is gone, since LEDs don't flicker in the same way as metal halide lamps.
University of Phoenix Stadium isn't the first stadium to be lit by LEDs — NRG Stadium (home of the Houston Texans) also installed the new lights for this season. But the LEDs will now be under the scrutiny of the brightest stage of them all: the Super Bowl. Ephesus, the company that manufactured the lights, is probably hoping no one notices a difference, but at least if the power goes out like it did in 2013 it won't take a half an hour for the lights to come back on — LEDs power up instantly.