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Football field at a sports centre illuminated with floodlights
Floodlight in a small sports field.
Floodlights are broad-beamed, high intensity artificial lights often used to illuminate outdoor playing fields while an outdoor sports event is being held during low-light conditions.

In the top tiers of many professional sports, it is a requirement for stadiums to have floodlights to allow games to be scheduled outside daylight hours. Evening or night matches may suit spectators who have work or other commitment earlier in the day. The main motivation for this is television marketing, especially in sports such as Gridiron which rely on TV rights money to finance the sport. Some sports grounds which do not have permanent floodlights installed may make use of portable temporary ones instead. Many larger floodlights (see bottom picture) will have gantries for bulb changing and maintenance. These will usually be able to accommodate one or two engineers.

Types of floodlight

The most common type of floodlight is the Metal Halide which emits a bright white light, however most commonly used for sporting events are high pressure Sodium floodlights which emit a soft orange light, similar to that of street lights; SON lamps have a very high lumens per watt ratio making them a cost effective choice where certain lux levels have to met.

Australian rules football

The first floodlit Australian rules football match was a VFL premiership match, Essendon Football Club vs Geelong Football Club at the Brisbane Exhibition Groundmarker, as part of Round 8, 1952.


A floodlight in a cricket field
Cricket was first played under floodlights on Monday, August 11, 1952 in England which was watched by several million people on their television sets. Since then every test playing country has installed floodlights in their stadiums. Traditional Cricket floodlights have a long pole on which lights are fixed. This is done because many times the ball travels too high when a batsman hits it and high lights are needed to keep the ball in sight. But many cricket stadiums have different types of floodlights like ANZ Stadiummarker in Australia, stadiums in New Zealandmarker etc. The DSC Cricket Stadiummarker in Dubaimarker recently installed Ring of Fire system of floodlights which is latest and smartest system of floodlight in the world.

Association football

A floodlight used on a soccer field
Darwen FC have reportedly the first floodlit stadium. Floodlighting in association football dates as far back as 1878, when there were floodlit experimental matches at Bramall Lanemarker, Sheffieldmarker during the dark winter afternoons. With no national grid, lights were powered by batteries and dynamoes, and were unreliable. Lights were later be used by clubs such as Thames Ironworks, but they stopped the practice after joining the Southern League in 1888.

In the 1930s, Herbert Chapman installed lights into the new West Stand at Highburymarker but the Football League refused to sanction their use. This situation lasted until the 1950s, when the popularity of floodlit friendlies became such that the League relented. The first games under floodlights of an England game at Wembleymarker was 30 November 1955 against Spain, England winning 4-1. The first floodlit Football League match took place at Fratton Parkmarker, Portsmouthmarker on 22 February 1956 between Portsmouth and Newcastle United.

Many clubs have taken their floodlights down and replaced them with new ones along the roof line of the stands. This previously had not been possible as many grounds comprised open terraces and roof lines on covered stands were too low. Elland Roadmarker, Old Traffordmarker and Anfieldmarker were the first major grounds to do this in the early 1990s. The Galpharm Stadiummarker and the JJB Stadiummarker have since been built with traditional floodlights on pylons.

Rugby League

For a club to play in the Super League they must have a ground with floodlights adequate for playing a professional game.

Amateur use

Many smaller amateur clubs will have less substantial floodlights, often only suitable for training and not playing a full game. Often they will only illuminate a small part of the playing area.

Other uses

Flood lights are also used in other sports such as racing, baseball, tennis, and other sports.


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