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Lucas Oil Stadium: A Well-Oiled AV Machine

Though well-known in racing circles because of its omnipresent logo, Lucas Oil Products was hardly a household name in Indianapolis two years ago. So it began to formulate a marketing plan that would take full advantage of audiovisual technology while meeting expectations for a state-of-the-art facility. Digital signage would be a big part of building brand awareness.

And the Crowd Roars

Of course, the Lucas Oil Plaza isn't only a visual experience. It would be an understatement to say the plaza's sound system has a little competition for fans' attention, sitting as it does underneath the seats of a football stadium with its own loudspeakers that blare game-related audio and PA announcements. To say nothing of the audio from other corporate sponsors on the concession level.

Sensory considered 6mm LED technology for the Lucas Oil Plaza, but opted for 16 52-inch NEC LCD displays for a quarter of the cost of LED.

Sensory considered 6mm LED technology for the Lucas Oil Plaza, but opted for 16 52-inch NEC LCD displays for a quarter of the cost of LED.

Credit: Sensory Technologies

"We had to design [our system] to mute when the PA came on and un-mute when the system kicked off," Nicholson says. The resulting sound-reinforcement solution is an impressive technological feat that manages to produce quality audio in a huge, acoustically inhospitable environment of 25- to 60-foot concrete walls. "When you're in this space, you feel like you're in a concert hall," she adds.

Two arrays, each consisting of a pair of Klipsch KI362 three-way speaker cabinets and KI215 subwoofers, fly on either side of the videowall that covers the entrance of the pavilion. Eight more KI362s and two KI215s are distributed along the concourse on either side of a horseshoe-shaped stage that features musical acts. Three KI102 near-field cabinets fill the area directly in front of the stage. Every cabinet is bi-amped.

The system is powered by Crown I-Tech amplifiers–IT-4000 models for the KI362s and KI102s and IT-6000s for the KI215s. Sensory says it chose the I-Techs for their high efficiency, power output, and internal DSPs. The DSPs handled speaker tunings, crossover points, and component alignments. The system also uses a Biamp AudiaFlex for simple audio routing and level control of the digital signage system and presentation sources when the stage is not in use.

During setup, audio engineers walked the room with a wireless tablet PC to monitor and adjust the parameters of each amplifier by zone. Dimensions and speaker angles were precisely calculated and echo cancellation adjusted. "Our sound engineer basically spent the night there for a week," Foulke says. "This is all going on while other trades are still working in the space."

Kiosk sound also had to be adjusted to coexist in the complex aural environment. Nicholson says their directionalized speakers keep the sound focused on people standing near the screens. "When you walk four feet to the left, you don't hear it anymore," she explains.

When asked about future plans for the space, Nicholson says she has heard of none, and for good reason. "Lucas went all out in phase one," she says. "They did everything they wanted to do. Some of the other sponsors held back for a later phase."

The audiovisual impact of the place is testament enough. "You walk into this space and it's Lucas Oil overload," Nicholson says. "You forget that you're at a football game." AV

David Essex is a freelance technology writer based in Peterborough, N.H.

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