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Thompson-Boling Arena is the first in the world to use new LED technology.

LED North America unveiled the new lighting package at the arena Monday.

Ninety state-of-the-art LED fixtures provide more light using about 85 percent less energy than the fixtures the arena had used for almost 30 years.

UT is the test site for LED North America. The lights, which can be dimmed and brought to full intensity in seconds, were installed on a small scale for testing during UT's summer sports camps. The light quality was measurably superior and will also allow Thompson-Boling Arena to meet the new high-definition television broadcast standard.

The company started about five years ago using graphite foam technology from Oak Ridge National Labs to keep the lights cool. It has partnered with Bandit Lights to install the LED fixtures at no cost to the University. They will be mounted under the catwalk without affecting the current game lights, allowing for operational and performance testing during the basketball season.

The Oak Ridge company will manufacture the lights here in East Tennessee and hopes to revolutionize arena and stadium lighting worldwide.

"The success of these lights will be a game changer," Andrew Wilhelm, president of LED North America, said. "UT is positioned to start a trend that could spread to arenas everywhere in a few years."

The UT basketball teams will get a chance to practice under the new lights soon, and some of the remaining games may be played under all LED lights.

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