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New Meadowlands Stadium: Not Just a Video Masterpiece

Much has been written about the massive video intrastructure at New Meadowlands Stadium and they way it delivers content to every visitor. But the audio system is also cutting-edge.

CHALLENGE: Design an audio system for a new 21st-century sports stadium that's as impressive as its video system.

SOLUTION: Model a large distributed sound reinforcement solution with precision programming that takes into account the stadium's unique architecture.

The tiers at the New Meadowlands are closer together vertically than they would have been a decade ago to allow for more glass-enclosed VIP seating. That posed an acoustical challenge.

The tiers at the New Meadowlands are closer together vertically than they would have been a decade ago to allow for more glass-enclosed VIP seating. That posed an acoustical challenge.

Credit: Pro Media/Ultrasound

The old joke goes something like this: "Where are you from?" "New Jersey." "Oh really? Which exit?" The reference to the Garden State's endless miles of interstates, parkways, and turnpikes may be clichéd, but now at least one of those exits (16W off the New Jersey Turnpike, to be precise) gives the locals some serious bragging rights. And it has become a case study in more than cutting-edge video delivery.

Much has been written about New Meadowlands Stadium, built just miles from the Manhattan skyline and home to the National Football League's New York Giants and New York Jets. It was erected at a cost of $1.6 billion, and spreads out over nearly 80 acres of what was once wetlands but more recently was the site of the old Giants Stadium, a moniker that always irked fans of the stadium's other football tenant.

A true multi­purpose venue, designed to also host Major League Soccer matches, college football games, concerts, and other events, the New Meadowlands Stadium seats up to 82,500 and includes a massive, fiber-optic-based IPTV network from Cisco Systems and Verizon Communications that brings video highlights, game information, and digital signage to nearly every fan (see "5-Minute Interview" with Cisco's Thomas Wyatt, page 10).

In addition to media from its internal content delivery network, the new stadium also draws and distributes DirecTV and Verizon FiOS sources to an estimated 2,200 displays around the stadium, including throughout the extensive premium and club seating sections. Data streams at around 10 Gbps and can reach up to 20 Gbps running over fiber and augmented Cat-6 cabling. The LAN is built around Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches at the edge and Nexus 7000 switches in the core. Wireless hotspots throughout allow visitors to keep tabs on all their favorite sports teams from their handheld devices.

But the New Meadowlands Stadium is also a triumph of acoustics, and it is a creature of changes in modern stadium design that have forced AV professionals to think differently about the sound systems they specify and integrate.

Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW), a Dallas-based consulting firm, handled design of the audio, video, control, and data systems of the stadium, including cabling, telecommunications, security, network broadcast systems, SDI distribution, large-format video displays, IPTV, and an integrated Crestron control system. In light of the complexity in designing stadiums such as the New Meadowlands, Jim Faber, a senior associate at WJHW, is reluctant to call what his company does as working on "AV systems" anymore.

"We're using the term 'electronic systems' now instead of AV systems," he says. Faber believes projects such as the New Meadowlands portend the day, in the very near future, when the electronic systems contractor is a primary trade supplier on par with the electrical or mechanical contractor, calling in audio and video specialists as needed.

To tackle the audio challenge presented by the New Meadowlands Stadium, WJHW brought in Pro Media/Ultrasound. The two got down to business designing a sound system that took into account the venue's decidedly 21st century architecture.

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