North Melbourne Football Club A retrospective piece on Arden Street Oval

It is true, as Australians, we love our sport, whether it be football, rugby or tennis, our country is full of sporting fanatics. Sport brings people together from all walks of life and fosters community, belonging and a healthy lifestyle. To support this, clubs need to ensure their sporting facilities are of the highest standards to always create the best environment for participants at all hours. More often, clubs are training after sunset, meaning quality lighting is essential in delivering a performance-enhancing atmosphere and allowing athletes to perform in the same way they would during the day. Good lighting, more specifically LED lighting, provides the opportunity for night-time activity, whilst enhancing safety and spectator enjoyment.

The Challenge
Arden Street Oval is the headquarters for the North Melbourne AFL club, having served the group for more than 125 years. In early 2019, North Melbourne, together with the AFL, Melbourne City Council and Victorian State Government, and the teams at HB Arch, Erbas and Harris HMC, transformed the Recreation Reserve into a state-of-the-art facility. ‘The training centre was built in 2009 and the key difference between now and then is that the club has expanded from one team to four,’ said Gray Barton, Director of HB Arch. The expansion was to accommodate the Clubs new AFLW/VFL/VFLW teams and included the installation of a LED lighting scheme. ‘There was an emphasis around increasing the amount of time the clubs can use the oval. Due to the new teams not being full time professional league, their training hours are often outside of normal working hours.’ As part of the brief by the club, the new lighting system needed to provide players with the opportunity for evening practice and be comparable to other high-level training facilities.

There were numerous physical constraints due this site being an existing reserve without previous light towers. With the lights positioned on the outskirts of the oval situated closely by the trees, it was fundamental to ensure the poles did not cause a detrimental impact to its surroundings. Sitting in an inner-city suburb, within a residential pocket, meant it was vital to meet obtrusive light standards. It required careful consideration of the placement of the fittings to ensure minimal light spill and glare to the neighbouring residents.

Another key challenge was the non-standard distance required between each of the poles around the oval. ‘The poles adjacent to the player facilities off the oval are a fair way apart to maintain sight lines for coach and media boxes,’ said Gray Barton. It was critical to carefully design the light spread to meet the placement of the poles and guarantee uniformity across the entire oval.

The Solution
Buckford supported HB Arch, Erbas and Harris HMC to deliver an effective lighting design and help them achieve their goals through our technical solutions and extensive product offering. Thankfully to the Philips (Signify) sports lighting range and Buckford’s product knowledge, we supplied the Philips OptiVision. The optimal design, excellent light quality and extremely sound uniformity attained by the OptiVision made these floodlights the ideal choice.

Another advantage of the OptiVision is its brilliant energy efficiency, delivering more lux with fewer lights and less power, thus saving a considerable amount of wattage. Additionally, with its modular system construction and die-cast housing, these fittings require next to no maintenance and reach a long-lasting lifetime.

The Result
The OptiVision effectively achieved a 300lux, a sufficient illuminance for the level of play (Semi-Professional Competition) and delivered an accurate light distribution. These fittings have reached the desired outcome by complying with obtrusive light standards, ensuring no glare or light spill to nearby drivers or residents.

The new lighting meets the clubs’ desire to have the latest technology to illuminate the ground and control the lighting. ‘With a control gear and programmable lighting system, they can achieve the ideal lighting depending on who it is used by and how,’ said Gray Barton. This allows the control of the lux levels, from a low lux for community-based clubs, up to 300 lux for the AFLW/VFL/VFLW teams.

Delivering lighting to Arden Street has enhanced the players experience immensely by providing them with the ability to train at night. When the AFLW team first came into existence late 2018, they were training in the evening, where it was often getting dark, limiting their ability to continue into the night. ‘The instalment of the lighting has had a significant impact and allows flexible training times and has had an even better benefit for the VFL squads who train in Winter, where it gets dark earlier,’ said Gray Barton. They no longer need to locate to other facilities at night. The new lighting has given the players the opportunity to both train and match play on their home ground as four teams at the one club, a colossal improvement for all North Melbourne teams and an excellent result.