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Livestrong Sporting Park: Wired for Action in Kansas City

Apr 5, 2011 2:35 PM, by Dan Daley

Intricate coordination among audio, lighting, IT, and architecture gives Major League Soccer a new jewel

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Livestrong Sporting Park

Livestrong Sporting Park

They started out as the Kansas City Wiz and became the KC Wizards. But as of this, the Major League Soccer team’s 16th season, the newly rebranded Sporting Kansas City will have a new stadium to call its own. The team’s new home, the Livestrong Sporting Park, may be rather emotionally named—Sporting KC will give a portion of fan revenue to the Lance Armstrong Foundation charity—but its AV systems are as good as they get. The end zones of the 342,000-square-foot arena, which will hold 18,500 for games and 25,000 for concerts and other entertainment events, are bookended by Panasonic video displays, an 84’x24’ one at the south end of the field and a 42’x12’ display at the opposite end, both comprised of Panasonic 16mm JL16 LED modules. The field is wrapped on three sides by 30in.-high Panasonic LED ribbon boards, calculated to keep the advertising content always on-camera. Based on that, the stadium bills itself as the first MLS arena to have lighting specifically designed for HDTV. The stadium’s sound system is based on the EAW AX and MX series enclosures.

Livestrong Sporting Park is the first MLS arena to have
lighting specifically designed for HDTV.

Livestrong Sporting Park is the first MLS arena to have lighting specifically designed for HDTV.

“All of the systems’ components are important to each respective aspect of the stadium’s AV,” says Brian Elwell, senior consultant at Acoustic Dimensions, which designed the sound and video systems, “but it was the coordination between them that was the real story. The stadium’s systems were extensively modeled in 3D, and it’s fair to say that just about every component—every speaker and every light fixture—had to be moved to some extent or another, up, down, left, or right, to make everything fit perfectly and not interrupt the aesthetic look of the stadium,” he recalls. “It had to look like it was all designed as a single entity and it was a pretty intense process.”

Acoustic Dimensions’ speakers, the sports lighting design by M-E Engineers, the structural design by Thorton Tomasetti, and Populous’ architectural design were ultimately all imported into Autodesk’s Navisworks. That began a series of tactical moves intended to keep all designs as intact as possible without interfering with each other or the stadium’s visual lines. The project’s general contractor, Turner Construction, coordinated the process. “The team did a great job in the overall design,” says Elwell. “Nothing simply ‘hangs’ anywhere—it’s all aesthetically integrated. So all the subcontractors had to work to maintain that same level of fit and finish.”

The sound system
features EAW AX and MX series speakers.

The sound system features EAW AX and MX series speakers.

For the distributed sound system, that meant most of the several hundred speakers in the system had to be moved; sometimes as little as a few inches, sometimes more radically. An example of the latter: the original design had a single speaker array at every other truss consisting of three full-range AX 366 boxes and a custom subwoofer, but had to be split so that two of the boxes became aimed for front firing and the third aimed to the rear, while the sub was moved to the other side of the main truss. Additionally, the subwoofer size was altered by using a customized KF850-based subwoofer in lieu of the originally designated KF1000-based model. “The required curvature of the array, the height of the array, and the depth of the subwoofer were interfering with the aesthetics and the sports lights, and the 3D model clearly exposed those conflicts.” Elwell explains. The asymmetrical swirl-shaped roof compounded the design. As the roofline got lower, the design had to be modified to decrease the spacing between speakers. That in turn increased the number of speakers used but also required that their level be set accordingly lower, as well. The BSS Soundweb London DSP BLU-160 units, whose processing was distributed on a per-speaker basis, would handle that. “Localizing the DSP processing also meant that we weren’t locking the system to single-point failure,” says Elwell.

A Fast Track Late In The Game

The systems’ integrator, Progressive Electronics, installed the sound system and much of the video systems. They had to carefully integrate the technology as well as keep pace with the incredibly fast schedule, which made this an unprecedented project. The accelerated schedule presented challenges in every aspect, which forced them to rethink the normal construction process. Products were changed to ensure timely arrival, site condition issues had to be resolved expediently, and coordinating crews had to work in conjunction

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