Since 1920, Husky Stadium has proudly served as the home for the University of Washington’s football team. With a seating capacity of 70,138, this makes it the largest stadium, college or professional, in the Pacific Northwest and ranks it among the nation’s top 15 largest on-campus facilities. The PRIME team returned to the iconic Husky Stadium this past summer after completing comprehensive renovations in 2013 to retrofit the old-school halogen lights with state-of-the-art LED technology on the stadium’s roof and light poles. The new LED fixtures, supplied by Musco Lighting, feature instant on/off ability, color takeover, and choreographed lighting sequences, enhancing the Husky fan experience while providing a more energy-efficient lighting solution that aligns with both the University of Washington’s (UW) and PRIME’s commitment to sustainability.
With only three months from conception to completion, the tight schedule was one of the biggest challenges to this project. PRIME’s goal: retrofit and upgrade all existing field lighting with new white and color-changing LED fixtures, on the two roofs and four light poles, by July 31st. To meet the deadline and allow for minimal disruptions to the facility, PRIME worked closely with the University of Washington and Musco Lighting to meticulously plan and execute the project. Using a crane was first considered for the entirety of the project but it posed a challenge when working on the roof. A crane would cause potential damage to the field, full field closure, and run the risk of not meeting the deadline. The teams collaborated on a solution and decided that the most efficient way to complete this project would be to use a helicopter. This accelerated the process for the roof fixtures and turned what would have been a 3-month stadium closure into a single day.
The preparations for the LED lighting involved tracing and demoing the existing wiring and conduit ensuring that the stadium’s infrastructure was upgraded to handle the new control systems and fixture requirements. Collaborating with Musco Lighting and utilizing prefab wire allowed for a streamlined, plug-and-play approach. Our strategy involved commencing work on the light poles first, as they could be shipped earlier, and could be retrofitted with a crane. Over the course of four days, we mobilized and demobilized the crane for each pole throughout the field, removing the existing lights and upgrading them with the new LEDs. Simultaneously, our team prepared for the helicopter installation day by disconnecting the existing roof lighting structures, prepping safety infrastructure, and preparing for, receiving, and assembling the new roof LED fixture and driver structures.
Helicopter day commenced at 5:00 a.m. on July 13th, with the preconstructed light fixtures awaiting lift-off on the adjacent practice field. A full safety review commenced at 7 a.m. with the University of Washington, Seattle Fire Department, Musco Lighting, and ARIS helicopters, to review the day’s sequence of operations and protocols. Teams then dispersed to their work zones, and we were underway. Over the next 12 hours, a seamless collaboration unfolded between the PRIME and ARIS teams, both on the ground and rooftops. Crews worked non-stop, expertly executing the safe removal of the old fixtures, driver enclosure structures, and the installation of the new LED fixtures and cabinets.
Throughout this operation PRIME’s safety team members were hands-on, joining the crew on the roof and ground to manage harnesses, prevent tangled lines, assist in the incoming structure delivery, and work with UW to ensure site security. When we reached the project’s closeout, all 242 LED fixtures and 8 enclosure cabinet structures on the roof and poles had been replaced without any injuries and only one broken light. New controls were commissioned, light levels tested, and Husky Stadium was ready for the upcoming 2023-24 football season.