HUNTSVILLE | When Scott High opens the 2022 football season at home on Friday, fans will immediately notice a major upgrade at Highlander Stadium.
Gone are the old-style stadium lights — with incandescent bulbs — that towered over the football field. Replacing them are low-profile LED lights.
At first glance, the new towers appear bare. That’s because there are no longer more than half a dozen bulbs on each tower. Instead, there is an assembly of just four LEDs atop each tower, with additional accent lights near the bottom of the towers.
“They took down 40 lights and hung up 18,” Scott High athletics director Eric Henry said.
The lights are manufactured by Musco, a leading name in athletics field lighting. The lights installed at Scott High — which carry a six-figure price tag — are part of Musco’s “Show-Light” entertainment package. That means they’ll make light shows possible at Highlander Stadium.
New LED lighting technology offers entertainment possibilities that old-school incandescent bulbs could not. The old-school bulbs can take several minutes to warm up, so turning them off and on quickly is out of the question. LED lights, though, offer possibilities that are nearly limitless, including stopping and starting the lights, dimming them, and using the accent lights to create color combinations.
Stadium light shows burst onto the NCAA scene several years ago, when the University of Alabama made waves with new state-of-the-art LED lights at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Since then, other schools — including Tennessee at Neyland Stadium — have adopted the technology.
On a smaller scale, LED light shows are now becoming popular in the high school game, as well. Some local football fans have seen such lights in person at Corbin, Ky.’s Redhound Stadium, where Oneida has opened the season in the Cumberland Falls Pigskin Classic the past two years. Corbin installed its new lights — which are also Musco, and are nearly identical to the lights installed at Highlander Stadium — in the spring of 2021.
The Musco light systems can be controlled from a computer console in the press box. Some of the ways the lights are used at other schools include light shows when the team takes the field to start the game, or after a touchdown is scored.
Henry said that he isn’t sure how Scott High will use its lights; Musco officials are scheduled to be on campus this week to show school administrators how to use the lights.
TSSAA’s new rules — implemented just this fall — require that LED light shows not be conducted during the coin toss, during live-ball situations, or when the ball is marked ready to play, meaning the 40- or 25-second play clock is running. Other than that, the sky is the limit.
Scott High’s new lights were hung on the existing towers, which represented a significant cost-savings to the school.
“One good thing about the fifty-plus-year-old school and facilities is we have 80-foot towers,” Henry said. “Most everyone else has 40-foot towers.”
While the new lights are the first athletic facility improvement at Scott High — besides a new scoreboard and crow’s nest at the soccer field that were unveiled last spring — Henry hopes they won’t be the last.
“We’re really excited to unveil what I hope to be many improvements in facilities at SHS,” he said.