If you follow any of our social channels, then you might have already spotted the launch of our latest sports lighting case study detailing the work we did for Scottish Championship team Arbroath F.C.
As well as delivering a huge performance upgrade and helping the club to save money on energy and maintenance, Midstream also had to create a design that worked with the more unique aspects of Gayfield Park – the team’s home ground.
To find out more, we caught up with Midstream sales executive Sam Thompson, who led the project.
So, Sam, it sounds like there were some fairly specific circumstances you had to take into account when creating the designs for Gayfield Park?
“There were, yes. First of all, you’ve got the location. If you look at a map, Gayfield is right on the east coast of Scotland. The stadium is around 25 yards from the beach, making it the closest professional ground to the sea in Europe. That presents a couple of immediate considerations in terms of both the wind coming across from the ocean and what amounts to a harsh environment overall.
“On top of that, you’ve got the historic nature of the stadium itself. The current ground dates back to the 1920s, and – while the stands have recently been refurbished and extended – the mast infrastructure that houses the floodlights hasn’t been modified since around 1967. Naturally, that meant that the club’s executive team had a few concerns about attaching new lights to a setup that old.”
Okay, so let’s start with that. How did you deal with the issue of brand new lights going on to near 60 year-old masts?
“Carefully. Safety is obviously the main concern, for ourselves and for the club. We needed to be absolutely certain that those masts would be able to cope with both the weight of the new luminaires and the stress that comes with having old units removed and new ones added. You’re dealing with heavy equipment at extreme heights, so there’s no margin for error.
“Typically, you’d have structural plans or engineering drawings to work from, but the age of Arbroath’s system meant that those were no longer available. Instead, we were able to find a company that specialises in load testing for structures like this. They came in and were able to verify that – despite them dating back to the sixties – the masts were actually still in very good shape.
“As you can imagine, that was hugely reassuring to the club, not just from a health and safety perspective, but from a cost one as well. There’s a reason that retrofit solutions tend to be used as often as they are in sports lighting, and that’s because new masts can add as much as 75% to the cost of a project. Clearly you want to avoid adding that expense whenever you can.”
For sure. And did that have any impact on the other aspect here, the proximity to the sea?
“In terms of wind, yes. Wind speeds tend to be much higher along the coastline, and that can have a bearing on the way that masts behave, especially when they have lights attached. The load testing that we commissioned took this into account as well, though, so we already had a lot of confidence from that point of view.
“The other factor here is the design of the luminaires themselves. We used the Modus S1100 at Gayfield Park, and there are a couple of things about that unit that make it really effective in environments like this. Firstly, it’s designed to be incredibly lightweight compared to some of the competing products on the market, and that’s a huge advantage when you need to minimise loads at height.
“Secondly, there’s the build quality. The S1100 is manufactured from stainless steel, which is highly resistant to corrosive atmospheres like those on the coast. It’s also IP67 rated, meaning that it’s well protected both from fine particles like dust and sand, and also classified as waterproof. That makes it perfect for a taxing coastal location.”
And then, of course, there’s the fact that Gayfield Park is a professional ground and this project was delivered during the Championship season. How did that work?
“The club wanted the lights ready for the start of the 22/23 season, and it turned out that the best way to make that happen was to install them during the last two home games of the season. We definitely had our work cut out for us, as that gave us about eight working days to get everything delivered, installed, and tested before the last match.
“Thankfully, we were fortunate enough to have the support of a brilliant team from JHP Electrical, who did an absolutely stellar job in turning everything around in time. Despite it being summer, it was still fairly windy at that point, so they did brilliantly to install the new system as quickly as they did.
“I think there’s a general perception that a new lighting system will take weeks and weeks to implement, and hopefully this goes to show that’s not the case. With things like rising energy costs and inflation a quick turn around is important for clubs who can’t afford downtime. A quick installation means clubs minimise disruption to those that use their facilities and they are able to start enjoying the savings on power and maintenance costs that come with having a modern and energy efficient lighting system sooner rather than later.”