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Sport field lighting is site light fixtures used to illuminate large areas for sports events. It could also be used to illuminate large outdoor events like concerts, for example. They are typically mounted on poles 40 to 100 feet tall, with between 1-12 fixtures mounted on each pole.

If you have an outdoor stadium, you may be all to familiar how costly metal halide and high pressure sodium lights are. They have short life spans, and at half life, have lost much of its available lumens to light degradation. Strike times are long, up to 30 minutes, and energy costs are high.

Ball fields and stadiums could greatly benefit from using LED Lights. They are more than powerful to replace even the most powerful Metal Halide Stadium Lights with a 60% or greater energy savings. Lights are instant on / instant off, so there’s no need to spend 30 minutes warming up the lights.

These lights have life spans that far exceed anything that metal halide has to offer. They can also be dimmed, if required, to save on energy when maintenance tasks are done at night.

Maintenance costs are near, or close to, zero. These lights do not have bulbs that need to be replaced. They offer long, dependable, high quality lighting for any outdoor sports venue, whether its a baseball, softball, football or soccer field.

Now, what might come out as tricky is the method of upgrading the current light system with LED Lights. You may want to know all about the process, the important factors, the right way to start, and much more. Read on as we present the complete guide on LED Stadium Lights and their usage.

1. LED Lights are powerful enough to replace Metal Halide – 1 for 1.

You may have a ball stadium that currently uses either 1000 Watt or 1500 Watt Metal Halide. And being able to replace Metal Halide with LED makes sense as long as you don’t have to add more fixtures than you currently have. Here’s a simple guide to lumens required to replace metal halide

1000 Watts Metal Halide: 50,000 to 60,000 LED Lumens

1500 Watts Metal Halide:  80,000 to 90,000 LED Lumens

2000 Watts Metal Halide: 110,000 + LED Lumens


2. Narrow Beam Optics is the key to lighting a sports field

The main difference between standard outdoor lights and stadium lights is the use of narrow beam angles, that allow light to be focused on specific areas of a field. This is far different than traditional “flood” style lighting, where large beams of light are used to spread light over a large area. In stadium lighting, narrow beams of light from one source lights up a specific area on the field. Each light has a specific job. Collectively, all the lights together provide the light levels and light balance to properly light up a field.

Takeaway: Choosing the right optic for YOUR application is one of the most important decisions. Fortunately, we can make that process easy (read #3 below)


NEMA Beam Spread Classifications

Beam Description NEMA Type Beam Spread in Degrees
Very narrow 1 10°- 18°
Narrow 2 18°- 29°
Medium narrow 3 29°- 46°
Medium 4 46°- 70°
Medium wide 5 70°- 100°
Wide 6 100°- 130°
Very Wide 7 130° and above

A real world example of how beam angles work

Here are 5 simulations. Each simulation is lighting up an area 100 ft wide by 200 ft long. There are 2 lights mounted on poles at 30 feet high. The fixture aiming remains the same for each simulation, the only thing that changes is the beam angle. We are using the 400 Watt IMF Flood fixture for these 5 examples.

10 degree Beam Angle

Flood Light With 10 Degree Beam Angle

15 degree Beam Angle

Flood Light With 15 Degree Beam Angle

30 degree Beam Angle

Flood Light With 30 Degree Beam Angle

45 degree Beam Angle

Flood Light With 45 Degree Beam Angle

60 degree Beam Angle

Flood Light With 60 Degree Beam Angle

3. Lighting Plans are the #1 Key to Success

With so many lighting options available now, where do you start? Pick a light based on watts? Lumens? 

We believe that choosing lights by watts alone is a recipe for disaster. Lumens is a better gauge than watts, since lumens is a representation of light, where as watts is a representation of electricity consumed.

But if you don’t understand the optic of the light, and what it would do, there’s a high probability that you’re not going to be happy with the results. You would be surprised how many times we are asked to fix bad LED Purchases.

Our best advice, start with a Stadium or Sports Field Lighting Plan. It allows you to see the results on the field without ever spending $1. The software can be altered to add more lights, remove lights and refocus lights until the field is properly lit and balanced. The lighting plan will show you what lights to use, and even where to aim them on the field. The right optic is chosen, and the right lumens  – eliminating all the guess work.

Takeaway: the biggest thing a lighting plan will provide is proof the playing field is bright enough and the light is balanced and even across the field


4. How many foot candles do you need to light up your sports field?

Here are some recommended foot candles (fc) based on designing and helping our customers convert over to LED

Baseball and Softball Fields

Outfield FC Infield FC Outfield FCs (Max/Min) Infield FCs (Max/Min)
Collegiate (Televised) 70 100 2.5 2
Collegiate 50 70 2.5 2
High School 30 50 2.5 2
Little League 30 50 2.5 2
Recreational 20 30 2.5 2

Football Fields

Location Ideal Light Levels in foot candles
Recreational Football 20 – 30
Middle School 30 – 50
Small High School 30 – 50
Larger High School 50 – 70
College 80-150

Soccer Fields

Location Ideal Light Levels in foot candles
Recreational Soccer 20 – 30
Middle School Soccer 30 – 50
Small High School Soccer 30 – 50
Larger High School Soccer 40 – 70
College 50-100

Tennis Courts

Tennis Level Suggested Foot Candles
Recreation Level Lighting 20 – 35
Club Level Tennis Lighting 30 – 60
Competition Level Tennis Lighting 50 – 80
College / NCAA Level Tennis Lighting (televised) 90 – 120

How Many Lumens are Stadium Lights?

LED stadium lights start at about 60,000 lumens to replace 1500-watt metal halide and can go up to 150,000 lumens. The amount of light from these fixtures will differ from the light on the ground, otherwise known as footcandles.

5. What is the best color temperature for Stadiums and Sport Fields?

LEDs are available commercially between the color temperatures of 2700K up to 6500K. For stadium lighting, 4000K or 5000K are your two best choices.

Takeaway: 98% of all lights we sell and customers ask for is 5000K. We believe its the best choice for metal halide replacement.

Color Temperature Bulbs

6. Make sure the lights have been tested to stand up to wet-weather and snow

The specification you are looking for is IP Ratings. The Wet weather rating starts at IP65 and goes to IP68. IP69K is a wash down rating, and is not needed for outdoor lights. Many of the stadium lights you will find on this site are IP65 or higher rated.

Takeaway: make sure the lights you purchase are at least IP65 or higher



7. What is CRI? And why it matters for sports field and stadium lighting.

Quality of light is measured by CRI or Color Rendering Index. Understand that CRI denotes quality of light where as Lumens denote quantity of light. People and objects look better under high quality light.

Objects and items appear yellowish under High-Pressure Sodium (2200K) light. HPS has poor CRI.
Objects look more natural and natural under LED, whose CRI ranges from 70 to 95+.

Takeaway: The higher the quality of light, the less quantity of light is required. Look for lights with CRI of 70 or above.

light bulbs cri

8. Know your input voltage

In LED, there are two common ranges of voltage for lights. Standard voltage and High Voltage. Understanding the voltage you have will ensure you order the right LED driver that will accommodate you voltage at you sports field. And LED drivers are designed to automatically adjust to the incoming voltage. So a 100-277V will auto adjust to 120V, 240V or 277V. 

Standard voltage is 100-277V
High Voltage can either be 277-480V or 347-480V


9. How to determine if a Sports  Field / Stadium Light has the quality you need

Quality applies to several things. First there is quality of product. Quality of product is one that has been certified safety tested under UL or ETL. It has at least a 5 year warranty, and a lifespan that matches the warranty. You should certainly expect a well built, high quality Stadium Light to last at least 10-15 years and requiring little if no maintenance.

Quality also applies to the supplier, the company that supplies you the lights. The supplier should have a long record of being in business and providing exceptional service pre and post sales. They should be the people you call if there are warranty issues, and not push you off to someone else. At LED Lighting Supply, we have a strong history of backing our customers and have excellent reviews that attest to this belief in providing our customer the best options and best service.

About the Author

Dwayne Kula is President of LED Lighting Supply. On any given day, Dwayne is writing content for the site and helps manage the marketing initiatives that are on-going. He has a Software Engineering degree and still dabbles in writing software for the company as needed. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, working out, playing the occasional game of golf and exploring New England.

See more posts by Dwayne Kula