Creating the Limelight: Current’s LEDs Light the Night at Super Bowl LI

Photography Credit: National Signs 

It’s hard to steal the spotlight from Lady Gaga. But at Super Bowl LI at Houston’s NRG Stadium, fans watching her roof-top performance might notice something else shining on top of the stadium: a bright LED display of the stadium’s name. 

The new sign is a huge upgrade from the previous one. The painted sign was 30 feet tall, but impossible to see from a distance or at night. Partners NRG Energy and National Signs turned to trusted partner Laura Bacon at Current to help create a sign that would provide all the pop and brilliance needed for a Super Bowl. 

“National Signs needed something that could hold up in the harshest environments and be seen from all angles,” says Sam DiMeo, GM Specialty LED Sales N.A. at Current. 

The finished product is 50,000 square feet, uses 125,000 LEDs and consumes just 15 kilowatts of energy. 

In order to make a sign that was bright enough but still energy efficient, Current relied on those LEDs which are 40 percent more energy efficient than traditional neon, and when used for signs of this scale, they are consistently bright and uniform. The team used Current’s Tetra Contour LS technology, which wraps a flexible LED light engine — an LED chip mounted on a circuit board to create a light — in a rigid seal to protect the chip from the evils of moisture and heat. The seal also creates a seamless, linear border which helps create a more modern look than with traditional neon. 

Installers couldn’t use a crane at the project because of the odd shape of the stadium’s roof deck. Instead, they had to climb 200 feet above and install the sign by hand. In order to have the sign ready in time for the Super Bowl, that meant working through every kind of weather. And the sheer size of the letters (each is up to 40 feet high) meant the sign couldn’t be installed all at once. Instead, each letter had to be separately constructed and installed one at a time. 

The final result will be seen by millions of people this weekend. It’s the final touch on football’s biggest day. 

Interested in learning more Current's role in lighting NRG Stadium?

 Article Credit: Tobey Grumet Segal