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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.


Architecturally, the New Meadowlands Stadium is a reflection of its time. It has as muchor moreclub and premium seating as any of the new generation of ballparks that came before it, such as the new Yankee Stadium, the New York Mets' Citi Field, or Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. Like air travel and hotels, major league sports today are all about the upgrade and enhancing the fan experience in order to sell more high-revenue luxury seats. As a result, the tiers at the New Meadowlands are closer together vertically than they would have been a decade or two ago to allow for more glass-enclosed VIP seating.

WJHW associate Mark Graham was tasked with maximizing the sound quality in what at the time was still considered a nontraditional acoustical environment. "You might not think acoustics plays a big role in the sound for an outdoor situation, but it does, especially with this kind of bowl architecture," he says.

Fans have come to expect concert-level sound quality in stadiums, even if they're not attending a concert. Graham's challenge was to accomplish that effect in a huge bowl enveloping the playing field, where speakers of sufficient throw to cover their particular areas might normally bleed over and create a perceivedand very annoyingecho effect. Moreover, speakers placed toward one end of the stadium would be audible to fans sitting toward the other end of the bowl. Sound traveling across the open space between them would be direct sound, not reflected, but would also be perceived as an echo.

Even the solutiona large distributed sound system with carefully programmed delays—wasn't as straightforward as it seemed. "The collapsed ceiling heights between levels, due to all the premium seating they had packed into the stadium's design, meant that the speakers overhead would be much closer than usual to fans in the stands directly below," Graham says. "A speaker might be capable of throwing up to 100 feet or more, but it might have to placed as close as 20 feet above their heads."

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