If there is one thing that is synonymous with the explosion of sports participation, TV rights, and just overall access to the games we have come to know and love, lights have played a major role.
The Providence Steam Roller played host to the first NFL night game on November 6, 1925. With 6,000 fans in attendance and a ball that was painted white so everyone could see it, fans were treated to a game that the local newspaper concluded was, “just as good as daylight.”
As the years have progressed and technology on and off the field has helped make games that much more enjoyable, the technology that once revolutionized how fans consumed sports lagged behind.
Now, Eaton’s Ephesus Sports Lighting is helping change that.
“Our goal when we started was trying to create a digital lighting solution to attack the sports lighting marketplace,” said Mike Lorenz, President of Ephesus Sports Lighting. “Up till 2012, no one had successfully done that and we ended up becoming the first company to kind of crack that market successfully in the summer of 2012.”
Since cracking the market, Ephesus has landed deals with the United Center, PNC Park, Hard Rock Stadium, and the Watsco Center, among hundreds of other professional, collegiate, and municipal venues.
The reasoning behind the early success? Lorenz credits it to the way Ephesus positioned itself.
“We intentionally positioned our company as an innovative technology solution provider and from that point to today, we’ve kind of followed that DNA. We very much see ourselves as the company that capitalizes on solid-state technology to develop the best lighting solutions.”
As teams and leagues have shifted their focus to becoming more sustainable and having smaller environmental impacts, Ephesus has been able to capitalize on the trend thanks to the fact that its lights are not only more efficient but can be used in more ways than just lighting the playing surface.
“In 2012 and 2013 what was driving market adoption was primarily the energy conservation, normal operating costs, and then secondarily improving lighting for television broadcasting,” Lorenz said. “I think when you fast forward four or five years later, what’s driving the adoption is certainly the operational efficiency, but it’s more than that. The ability to use a sports lighting system for multiple purposes including special effects is key.”
It’s these special effects that have helped take in-game experience from t-shirt tosses to Golden Knights cinematic pre-game hype levels, an important shift that Lorenz hopes will help captivate audiences and keep them coming back for more.
“When you think about sports, the first thing that comes to mind for the fans is that it’s about entertainment. It’s about enjoying the spectacle. Being at the venue is important. Taking a solid-state lighting system that’s properly designed and being able to control it and utilize it for multiple special effects before, during, and after the game, that can wow and entertain the fans and create a lot of energy in the building or on the field and on the playing surface is important for the overall fan experience.”
Outside of a better fan experience, Ephesus has been able to deliver a better broadcast experience, arguably the most important factor of the two.
“At the professional and collegiate level, broadcasting is driving the adoption of advanced lighting,” Lorenz said. “Broadcasting equipment has always been ahead of the lighting capabilities for the last couple of decades and we’re now seeing that gap close dramatically. We work closely with broadcasters to try and seek their input into the kind of lighting, color scheme, and quality that they would need to optimize for a live sporting event.”
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While delivering game-changing lighting solutions to professional teams is fun and pays the bills, Ephesus takes pride in working with its clients to find ways to bring light to areas that need it.
“We are proud to collaborate with the American Hockey League, the Miami Dolphins and other teams that we have relationships with to help give back something to the local community,” mentioned Lorenz as he spoke about the company’s charitable initiatives. “In the case in the Dolphins, we ran a promotion to donate an Ephesus LED lighting solution to a high school in Broward or Dade county.”
Whether you’re a rec team looking to extend your games or a professional team that has outdated lights and feel FOMO as you watch people ooh and awe over what teams like the Golden Knights are doing, technology has finally caught up to the point where you to can have the same things that they do.
Luckily, you won’t even have to paint the ball white.