Musco Lighting color tech ‘light’-years ahead
Musco Lighting is a privately-owned American company that specializes in design, manufacture of sports and large area lighting systems. It is headquartered in Oskaloosa, Iowa, United States.
In an exclusive with ‘Coliseum’ at the recently held Coliseum Online Week MENA, Eduardo Zamarripa, Soccer Market Manager, Musco Lighting, US, ‘shine a light’ on the Mini-Pitch Initiative of the U.S. Soccer Foundation in partnership with Musco and also talks about the color technology prowess of the company which makes for a riot of color in a venue.
Maximizing the fan experience
- Creating football ecosystems for your club and community
He kicks off by talking a little bit about the fan experience inside and outside the stadium and dwells at length on the Mini-Pitch Initiative which is something that Musco Lighting has been really supportive of in the last three years.
Mini-pitches are outdoor hard surfaces, the size of a tennis court, where small-sided matches foster technical skill and creativity.
Giving a brief background about Musco Lighting, Eduardo Zamarripa informed that it is a sports lighting company primarily – “We have been in business since 1976 and our company is based in Iowa, US. We create indoor and outdoor lighting systems. We started primarily with sports but now are also into transportation and infrastructure – anything from airports to container terminals to cargo. But, our prime focus has always been around sports. Even though we are based in the United States, we provide customized solutions globally and one can see our expert touch at the residence of the Premier League team – Arsenal F.C. – the 60,260-capacity Emirates Stadium in London.”
He added, “Whether it’s Europe, whether it’s Abu Dhabi, whether it’s China, South America, Latin America, we really do our projects all over the world and this is something on which we really take pride on.”
Musco Lighting in a nutshell:
- It is more than a 40-year-old company;
- Tackles indoor/outdoor lighting systems;
- Sports, transportation and infrastructure; and
- Provides customized solutions globally.
Global footprint in football
He informed that Musco Lighting has global presence in football and pointed out few stadia where the company has left their imprints –the 62,303-capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London (UK) with LED Light Source, the 25,053-capacity Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi (UAE) – LED Light Source and the 27,333-capacity Estadio Caliente in Tijuana (Mexico) – LED Light Source. In these stadia, Musco Lighting has employed light show technology wherein the patterns of light and color get changed constantly.
Zamarripa pointed out, “When you are talking about the fan experience inside the stadium, directing the light on to the pitch is always very important because you are able to highlight the players, you are able to maintain the attention on the pitch and an additional component that we are able to do is create different light shells as well as different light atmospheres within the stadium whether you do a light show or anything like that.”
Special Effects – Lynn Family Stadium, USL
The 11,700-capacity Lynn Family Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium in the Butchertown neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, United States. It has hosted Louisville City FC of the United Soccer League (USL) Championship since it opened in 2020.
The USL Championship is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States that began its inaugural season in 2011. The USL is sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation as a Division II Professional League since 2017, placing it under Major League Soccer (MLS) in the hierarchy.
He informed that the Lynn Family Stadium is a project that, “We completed recently and with our color technology prowess we can switch out the color of the facility from purple to red and any kind of color that you want to do and again that’s just another something that you should know that you can do to enhance the fan experience inside the stadium and certainly create excitement around your brand, your football club, or anything like that. So, that’s kind of just a brief overview of what we are able to do in terms of controlling light, in terms of providing dynamic light shows, providing some different color options.”
He goes on to talk about the Mini-Pitch Initiative and how it helps clubs to enhance the fan experience.
As part of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Mini-Pitch Initiative, each 20-for-20 mini-pitch provides children in underserved communities with a safe place to play while creating a soccer environment that encourages unstructured play within local communities, thereby supporting the continued growth of the game across the country.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation was established in 1994 and serves as the major charitable arm of soccer in the United States. The mission of the U.S. Soccer Foundation is to enhance, assist and grow the sport of soccer in the United States, with a special emphasis on underserved communities.
Zamarripa pointed out that as a sports lighting company they are always greeted with the question – how did they get involved in the Mini-Pitch Initiative? – “The mini-pitch is really just a small-sided soccer or football space and we are longtime partner of the U.S. Soccer Federation. We have been partners with them for more than 20 years. Back in 2015, the U.S. Soccer Foundation decided to start focusing their attention into creating small, customized hard court surfaces and, of course, the target was underutilized areas and underserved communities and one of the things that they are always trying to come back is just trying to create more options and more playing opportunities for kids and communities all over the country.”
He added, “And then back in 2017, as an organization they announced their incredible initiative called ‘It’s Everyone’s Game’ as part of which they will build 1,000 mini-pitches by 2026 in time for the FIFA World Cup™ with their main focus being creating access and opportunities and revitalizing communities – an example of how you can take a hard surface and turn it into a football pitch where you will both have programing and pick up and all that kind of stuff. But, as they started going into some more urban communities, say in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, they came to know about the challenges involved.”
He explained that for the U.S. Soccer Foundation, getting contractors to do small jobs was an uphill task and a challenge per se. It was then that they approached Musco Lighting – ‘Is there anything that you guys could create that would incorporate all those elements into one solution’. And this is how the mini-pitch system was born.
The sports official stated that the mini-pitch is a “modular galvanized steel structure that sits on top of a hard surface and everything you see there from a system standpoint is produced and manufactured by Musco Lighting – the fencing, the goals, the benches, the LED lights – all sits on top of a hard surface. The ability to control the LED lights remotely, 10-year parts and labor warranty and because it is modular you have nine different pitch size options as you are really able to pick different sizes based on your needs. What we have seen a lot of the time is these will go into unused tennis courts, unused basketball courts and, for example, it is kind of an unused parking lot and so we are always looking for areas where you can just take a space and revitalize it and then you also have branding opportunities where you are able to put your club brand, your partner’s brands and that’s very commonly a way that these projects get funded and everything that we do.”
Mini-pitch system in a nutshell:
- Modular galvanized structure;
- Includes fencing, goals, benches, and LED lights;
- Can be installed in two to three days;
- Schedule lights remotely;
- Ten-year parts and labor warranty;
- Nine pitch size options; and
- Branding opportunities.
Mini-Pitch Initiative of U.S. Soccer Foundation in a nutshell:
- The Mini-Pitch Initiative began in 2015;
- The focus is on creating small, customized, hard-court surfaces;
- Identify underutilized areas; and
- Transform them into football pitches meant for pick-up matches and programing
Informed Zamarripa, “And the very first prototype that we did was back in October 2018 in New York and since then we have installed a little over 100 mini-pitches in the United States, we continue to expand, we are doing some more in Europe and some more in Latin America and some more in Asia this year and it’s really been an exciting initiative for us. I think it demonstrates that it’s a very unique way for clubs to get back to the community, are you really able to create what we call football ecosystem where you are not only creating more opportunities but you are creating equal access for kids and you are also allowing them to engage with the game, with your brand and it’s something that I think clubs have really been drawn to.”
He added, “We have been able to work on a very large scale of different partnerships. The one that has recently come about is the ‘Black Players for Change and Black Women’s Player Collective’. Some of the different social issues which the US has been dealing in the past year. There was a group of MLS Black players initially and they decided to form an organization and we supported them from Day One. You know their mission was to create better opportunities for Black youths and we thought this was the perfect opportunity for the mini-pitch system and that’s how this partnership was born – ‘Black Players for Change’ and ‘U.S. Soccer Foundation’ and eventually the USL players have created the ‘Black Women’s Player Collective’.”
The Musco Lighting official said that the U.S. Soccer Foundation wants to do everything from a social standpoint and, “I think it really demonstrates that you are giving really something tangible back to the community and you are able to create more opportunities, you are able to really show what can we do as an organization or as a club to support something that can create more access to the youths.”
‘It’s Everyone’s Game’ in a nutshell:
- To build 1,000 mini-pitches by 2026;
- Revitalize communities;
- Target underprivileged areas; and
- Create access and opportunity.
- Hundred mini-pitch systems installed in the United States.
Bringing a mini-pitch system to your community:
- What are your community goals?;
- Identify partners;
- Needs assessment -ensuring greatest positive impact; and
- Identifying location(s) for mini-pitch system projects.
Zamarripa stated that Musco Lighting has scripted success stories with different clubs – “MLS teams New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew have been our great partners here in the United States and now we will be doing mini-pitches with the Premier League team Manchester City F.C. in Europe and for me as the Soccer Market Manager for Musco Lighting it’s always pretty incredible to see the impact that these have in the community and just how you can take an area that is dead and put light into it.”
He wrapped up by stating, “The Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville – and that’s a project that we live with our LED solution and they actually installed the mini-pitch system right outside their stadium for gameday activation and maximizing the fan experience with different light shows and color technology inside the stadium and then when you are outside you have the mini pitch system creating the link to the community.”
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