When the Lights Went Out in UGA’s Sanford Stadium

Some might say that the newly retrofitted lighting system at the University of Georgia football stadium gave the newly crowned NCAAF champion Bulldogs an added home field advantage.


The executive team at Sanford Stadium needed to replace the existing 20-year-old antiquated lighting system that no longer met NCAA National Broadcast lighting standards. In addition to a much-needed upgrade, the facility management team at UGA wanted to incorporate sports lighting that delivered a great broadcast, and provided an entertaining, “Super Bowl” fan experience for students, athletes and spectators.


According to Mike Bibow, Assistant AD Digital and Production, University of Georgia, “We kicked around the idea that in the fourth quarter, when we want to make a big impression, what if we turned the lights out for a second? It is only a second, and it seems a lot longer than it actually is, but you can hear people gasp, then the music starts and the video starts and the lights go red. People go crazy. It is one of the coolest experiences I’ve had doing this job.”

Bibow says that with the old lights, you couldn’t strike them during a game because it would take 15, 20 minutes or sometimes longer to restart them.

“It’s a pretty cool experience—when you combine what we can do with our lighting with what we do with our video boards; it’s a best-in-class experience. That’s what you want when you’re selling a program; it’s a big-time atmosphere,” says Bibow.

“So, the lights went off for less than a half-a-second and my heart dropped, this is what we didn’t want,” says Melvin A. Robinson, Jr. M. Ed., Assistant AD, Facility Operations, University of Georgia. “And then, in the next half-a-second, the red lights came up, the music started, the red glow hit and 93,000 people lost their minds. In our world it was two minutes, but it was a lifetime for them—and it was all possible because of the partnership we have with Ephesus.


The UGA team did their homework and spent quite a bit of time researching Ephesus. Turns out, Ephesus lighting systems provided the lighting for the last four Super Bowls. “At the end of the day, we had to go with the elite of the elite. We wanted the Super Bowl of arenas,” says Robinson.

Ephesus has always focused on the fan experience and entertainment aspect as much as it has the broadcast. The system is capable of delivering a broader color spectrum, and the system can be dimmed down to zero percent. “Our lights move faster and have individual control, and we can throw light farther and get it onto the field,” says Mike Quijano, Director of Marketing, Ephesus Sports Lighting. “And when you add all of that up, you really create an unlimited fan experience. We hope that players, coaches and fans walk away with a memory of  a lifetime.” Featuring the Ephesus 750-watt All Field LED fixtures and Prism RGBA color luminaires, the new lighting system exceeds NCAA National Broadcast standards, reduced annual energy costs by 63%, and created an incredible home field experience.

Ephesus All Field LED Fixtures, Ephesus Prism RGBA Fixtures

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