Inside the Target Field Install
Apr 12, 2010 2:32 PM, By Dan Daley
Communication saves the build at Target Field.
When the Minnesota Twins got a home of their own it was full of overlapping modern systems and the integration challenges that go with them. Plus weather.
Architect Populous (formerly HOK Sport) designed the open-air Target Field, opening in downtown Minneapolis this month, with a modern look, breaking with the leading architectural trend of the last decade that saw much of major-league baseball’s infrastructure rebuilt as retro-classic homage to the sports’ past (witness the Mets’ new Citi Field and the Orioles’ Camden Yards). Including infrastructure and financing costs, Target Field’s price tag is estimated at $522 million.
But not only is Target Field a modern vision of a sports stadium, it is a modern example of how systems integration has changed from discreet integrated systems to what is often called an “ecosystem”—where digital systems for AV, life safety, broadcast and Internet distribution, signage, and more share physical space, bandwidth, and points of intersection. Systems must talk to each other—and integrators must do the same.
“The challenge here was coordination among all the systems vendors,” says Jeffrey Volk, director of the sports and entertainment group at Alpha Video, which worked on the video control room at the stadium. “There were a half-dozen or so contractors whose work was focused on the control room to one degree or another, from the displays contractor to wiring and systems integration. Making sure everything would connect properly with everything else was critical.”
Volk says one of the key ways of accomplishing that, in addition to regular meetings among project managers and Alpha Video’s own proprietary software solutions that tie into Microsoft Project and Excel, was to learn the process policies of other contractors. “For instance, we had to take the output of our systems and interface that with the Daktronics display installers’ processing equipment, and for that we had to rely on Parsons [Electric, the audio and cabling systems integrator] to get their signals to the control room and then from there to our interconnections, and integrate it all with the IPTV system,” Volk explains. “Having a strong project manager to spearhead and establish kind of communication is very important, especially for projects of this scale.”
Volk says project scale is a game-changer: Target Field used an estimated 50 tons of copper wire and 75 miles of fiber cable. He’s seen more integration companies attracted to the sports venue sector thanks to its robustness, especially as compared to other commercial construction. But, he says, sports venues have a significant learning curve. “We started our sports group 10 years ago, and I feel we’re just hitting our stride in terms of familiarity with the processes,” he says, the sports metaphor inserted without irony. “We have our own internal processes—our engineering phase, shop drawings, pre-integration in the shop, and then building it onsite, then testing and doing training. When you realize that a half-dozen other contractors working in the same space as you have their own internal processes, you see that it can get complicated to mesh all of those processes.”
At about 1 million square feet, the Twins’ new stadium is smaller than the average size of new generation stadiums. Volk says that that didn’t necessarily impinge on the size of critical spaces inside the stadium, such as the broadcast control room, but it did compel those spaces to twist and turn a bit to fit. That was illustrated when the layout, which includes a main video control room, two AV edit suites, and a machine/equipment room, came up against the stadium’s structural support system. The space, intended to support a staff of more than 25 people on game days, has plenty of technology packed into it, including a Ross Video Vision 3 production switcher, Evertz HD and AES routing switchers with integrated multi-image viewers, a 6-channel EVS slow-motion system, a Ross Video SMS video server, Sony HDCAMs and Panasonic DVCPRO HD VTRs, Apple Final Cut Pro-based editing systems, Chyron HyperX 3 character generators, and a Riedel intercom and communication system. Input sources include multiple Sony HDC-1400 and PDW-700 cameras and Nucomm wireless HD camera systems. But those electronics had to jockey for position with a lot of concrete. Two days of plan review conducted jointly by the architect, contractor, and the integrators resulted in Alpha Video requesting rack-maker Middle Atlantic to construct racks that were of standard width but in some cases as shallow in depth as 10in. to allow them to fit around the 4-square-foot concrete support column. Alpha Video’s cabling and racking design came up against similar jigsaw-puzzle solving when the tank for the Du-Pont FM2000 fire suppression system that was supposed to be located in the machine room was moved to one of the edit suites.
“A lot of technology has to live in there,” Volk says. “The key to making that work was having our project manager realize that this conflict was coming up and getting lines of communication opened. How often does a systems integrator think they have to talk to the fire system people?”
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