The Super Bowl returns to New Orleans next February, it will be played in the newly illuminated Superdome.
Last fall, officials at the Mercedes Benz Superdome “flipped the switch” to illuminate the Louisiana landmark with a state-of-the art lighting show designed by Solomon Group, a multimedia production firm based in the host city, and featuring products from Martin Professional U.S., headquartered in Florida. The lights wash the building’s exterior in a spectrum of animated colors, patterns, and images. The inaugural lighting ceremony attracted more than 4,000 spectators and featured a special program that showcased the broad array of the system’s dynamic illumination capabilities set to a soundtrack scripted especially for the event.
The design required the installation of 288 Martin Professional Exterior 410™ lighting fixtures that are capable of reproducing every color of the rainbow on all 96 concave aluminum panels that ring the building. The project is the largest installation of an Exterior 400 Range™ fixture in the world. The bright, yet compact, luminaires use pre-mixed LEDs and RGBW color mixing and are part of an award-winning range of outdoor LED wash lights that include color calibration for more uniform color projection.
The four quadrants of the Superdome’s exterior also feature Martin Professional Exterior 1200 Image Projectors™, which are 1200-watt luminaires designed to project animated images and effects. The entire lighting system is controlled by a Martin Professional MaxModule Cerebrum™, a touch-screen control unit working through four Martin Ether2DMX8™ routers, one of which is located in each quadrant of the dome. The lighting control system can also be operated remotely so that the color scheme can be managed and manipulated off-site.
The new lighting system will showcase the facility as part of the city’s vibrant Sports District and will include coordinated illumination with Champions Square, which also utilizes a Martin Professional lighting system. Solomon Group, which served as the media technology designer for Champions Square, developed the lighting concept to create a multimedia environment that would enhance the city.
“Our goal was to create a lighting system that is both innovative and aesthetically stunning. Onlookers are sure to be amazed by what it brings to the exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome,” says Solomon Group president Gary Solomon, Jr. “The lighting will complement what we did for Champions Square and add a new element to our iconic skyline.”
The Mercedes Benz Superdome has been illuminated temporarily twice for special events in the past, including the first post-9/11 Super Bowl in 2002 and September 25, 2006, when the facility was reopened after Hurricane Katrina. Both of those installations were temporary and were only able to light the upper half of the facility’s exterior. The dynamic new LED lighting system is much more advanced, contains additional fixtures, and can be programmed with a vast array of color options.
Working with local architects Eskew+Dumez+Ripple/Ellerbe Becket, A Joint Venture, and electrical contractor Frischertz Electric, Solomon Group installed the energy-efficient system. When operating in one color, the entire system draws only 10 kilowatts of electricity – the equivalent amount consumed by a small home. In fact, the new installation draws only 25 percent of the power drawn by the previous system. In addition, when illuminated for six hours every day of the year, the lighting fixtures are estimated to last for decades.
The new lighting system will be operated nightly and feature many different colors and lighting patterns. The design includes the capability to customize effects, images, and colors in order to celebrate specific events or commemorate occasions.
“This is something we have been interested in doing for some time. Exterior lighting can transform a facility and have a huge impact on the nighttime skyline,” comments SMG’s senior vice president Doug Thornton, who operates the Mercedes Benz Superdome. “We see this as another significant feature that will enhance the identity of the facility while creating a colorful display for all New Orleanians to enjoy.”
Brian Friborg, president of Martin Professional U.S., notes, “The Superdome project has exceeded all expectations and we are extremely proud to be a part of it. We have been very moved by this project, by the sincere passion of those involved, and what the renovation of the Superdome has meant to the people of New Orleans. This is really about the rebirth of an iconic American venue and a wonderful city, and we are glad to have played a small part in that.”
The installation of the lighting system completes an $85 million renovation that has completely modernized the facility.