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Field Work

Sep 2, 2009 12:00 PM, By Trevor Boyer

Designing and implementing stadium audio systems for the 2009 MLB season.

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On April 13, 2009, the New York Mets hosted the San Diego Padres in its new home, Citi Field. The AV system in the new stadium was designed by Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW) of Dallas and implemented by integration firm TSI Global.

On April 13, 2009, the New York Mets hosted the San Diego Padres in its new home, Citi Field. The AV system in the new stadium was designed by Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW) of Dallas and implemented by integration firm TSI Global.

This April, a unique event in baseball history took place: two professional teams in the same city moved into new stadiums in the same season. In the Bronx, the New York Yankees moved into a new home across the street from the then-still-standing old Yankee Stadium (at press time, demolition is under way and should be complete by June 2010), and the New York Mets also moved across the street from its previous home (Shea Stadium) in Queens.

On April 13, the Mets hosted the San Diego Padres for the official Opening Day of Citi Field. The next morning, after the successful debut of a new digital audiovisual system, employees of integration firm TSI Global were working out some of the last remaining kinks in the stadium’s signal distribution. Embedded audio from one of the broadcast truck docks was coming into the stadium embedded on the wrong channel. “I know we had that working last week,” said Dave Potts, senior field engineer with TSI. At that point just after the stadium’s official opening, Potts said that his team was almost done implementing the AV system and was for the most part simply awaiting final punch-out from Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW) of Dallas, the designer of the system.

The design of the new Citi Field has some roots in St. Louis. TSI Global, which is based in nearby St. Charles, Mo., had integrated the AV system at the then-new Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006 as the home to the St. Louis Cardinals. Like that of Citi Field, Busch’s AV system was designed by WJHW. Both Busch Stadium and Citi Field were designed by architects HOK Sport Venue Event (now known as Populous) and built by general contractor Hunt Construction Group.

Citi Field’s AV system also shares many elements with that of similarly sized Busch Stadium. Both systems are powered by Crown CTs series amplifiers—more than 210 units for Busch and 242 in Citi’s case. BSS Soundweb London BLU systems process the signals for both systems via an Ethernet-based CobraNet architecture. But advances in technology since 2006 allowed WJHW and TSI to grant more power to the Citi Field’s system operator. Specifically, Harman’s HiQnet System Architect software gives the operator unprecedented control over and monitoring of individual system components throughout the stadium’s bowl, press boxes, luxury suites, restaurants, stores, and other areas.

The platform also represents an advance because it can stand alone. System Architect controls both the amplifiers and the DSP system (the 40-plus London BLU boxes around the stadium), which means that operators do not need to switch computers (typically done via KVM switching) to move from monitoring power amplifiers to adjusting DSP. Josh Beaudoin, who worked as a consultant at WJHW during the design phase of the process, designed the audio portion of Citi Field’s system. “The ability to now both monitor the BSS and the Crown from a single interface provides much better system monitoring capabilities because we can monitor heat in all the amplifier rooms from the remote System Architect interface,” he says. “We can remotely monitor any audio that’s happening in the box, and then lastly, we can schedule things in the stadium from System Architect.” (Beaudoin is now director of marketing, installed sound with Harman/BSS.)

The BSS London system sped up the commissioning process, according to Potts. “We were able to group speakers in such a way that Mark [Schultz, special projects engineer with TSI,] can actually bring up just those speakers within the BSS processor,” he says. “And for each individual array or combination of arrays, he was able to have EQ, delay, high-pass, in some cases low-pass, compressor/limiter level, meters, mutes, polarity—anything you needed. All through BSS.”

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