Lighting Controls, News

Wimbledon goes LED – just in time for finals

The metal halide lamps at Centre Court had inherent colour shift – and couldn't be switched on instantly

THE All England Lawn Tennis Club has ditched the metal halide lighting in Centre Court for LED in time for the 2017 championships.

American sports lighting specialist Musco has installed LED lighting in the retractable roof that covers Wimbledon Centre Court. The move improves the quality of TV broadcasts and, unlike the metal halides, allows instant striking.

Top: Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniaki was one of the first to play under the LED lights. Pic: Gregg Gorman 2017 Above: The arrangement of the original metal halide luminaires. 

‘The purpose of the project was to improve the quality of lighting for broadcasters, whilst simultaneously improving the functionality of the lighting as part of the roof operation,’ AELTC estate director Robert Deatker told Lux.

‘Specifically, this involves reducing the amount of time required by the lights to warm up or cool down, thus making it quicker to resume play,’

The LEDs are a cool 5700K with a CRI of 90. Depending on camera position, the vertical illuminance is 1300–1700 lx and horizontal illuminance is 3000 lx.

The installation is part of growing switch to LED in top-level sports. Many Premier League teams – including Chelsea, Arsenal, Southampton, Bournemouth and Hull City – have already made the switch as have Juventus in Italy and Seville in Spain.

In the US major league baseball teams using solid state lighting including the New York Yankees, the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, and Houston Astros.

Musco, working with consultants ME Engineers, created a mockup of the Wimbledon visual setting at its US manufacturing facility to test different CCT and CRI combinations to achieve the optimal combination of direct and indirect light. It also consulted with a UK-based TV crew and professional tennis players to fine-tune the specifications.

The metal halide lighting was installed with the retractable roof in 2009.

The original lighting controls have also been upgraded. Now all the lighting in Centre Court can be controlled remotely using a Quantum Total Light Management system from Lutron. Additional levels of security can be assigned per event ensuring that the lighting is able to react instantaneously to accommodate player needs without any chance of compromising the system.

ME Engineers was able to use the original Grafik XP dimming panels, while upgrading the processors, and installing a much improved Graphical User Interface that simplifies changes and offers crisper graphics. There are future plans to roll this solution out to Court Number One.


  • A special session on LEDs for sports lightng takes place on Wednesday 15 November at the LuxLive 2017 exhibition and conference at ExCeL London. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.