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Gamer's Delight

It's considered ESPN's top sports bar on the east coast. And no wonder. The latest Chickie's & Pete's at Parx Casino offers the total experience, plus a unique video gaming environment.

CHALLENGE: Take the sports bar experience to another level with custom-controlled events, nightclub effects, and private gaming centers.

SOLUTION: Install the large-screen TVs and audio systems that patrons would expect in a sports bar, but also integrate individual gaming "pods" with directional sound, acoustical treatment, and networked entertainment.

At the new Chickie's & Pete's sports bar inside of Parx Casino near Philadelphia, integrators and designers created one big AV installation that effectively surrounds 18 private pods where fans can play video games and hang out.

At the new Chickie's & Pete's sports bar inside of Parx Casino near Philadelphia, integrators and designers created one big AV installation that effectively surrounds 18 private pods where fans can play video games and hang out.

Visit a major sports town such as boston, New York, or Indianapolis and you'll find any number of bars and restaurants that cater to local fans. Their AV offerings range from a simple bank of flat-panel TVs to full-scale video production technologies such as the systems installed at the new Chickie's & Pete's Crab House and Sports Bar in Bensalem, Pa., near Philadelphia.

Chickie's & Pete's is unlike most other sports bars. Located in the Parx Casino (the 2010 Pro AV Spotlight Award winner for Best Restaurant/Casino), the 13,000-square-foot Chickie's & Pete's includes AV systems that deliver group fan experiences as well as more private viewing and gaming affairs through the integration of 18 amusement pod entertainment centers (APECs). Each APEC includes special space-saving racks from Middle Atlantic Products that hold a variety of gaming systems and accessories to create a feeling of enjoying sports and video games from the comfort of home while surrounded by like-minded fans. The combination of technology and venue design has earned Chickie's & Pete's the distinction of being named No. 1 Sports Bar on the East Coast by ESPN.

Though Chickie's & Pete's has six other restaurants in the United States, the newest locale in Parx Casino is the first to fully realize owner Pete Ciarrocchi's vision of an integrated gaming and sporting event experience built from the ground up.

"We had been working on the AV design and construction for Parx Casino for about three years," explains Nathan Powell, president of Production Technology Consultants Group (PTC Group), which provided AV consulting and construction management on the install. "The building owners were looking for continuity in AV design across the casino and restaurant, which is how we got involved in this project. Pete was the visionary. We helped him refine his ideas at another location but were able to integrate all the pieces of his vision at the Parx Casino location."

PTC Group worked closely with Ciarrocchi and DAS Architects of Philadelphia to ensure that the space "looked and sounded right the first time," Powell says. "Pete wanted the energy of a nightclub in a restaurant environment. Our biggest audio challenge was intelligibility."

Because of PTC Group's close working relationship with the architect, Powell was able to design multiple custom, curved trusses from Milos Structural Systems to be installed throughout the venue. The special trusses made it so that the AV design team could place loudspeakers and lighting elements wherever they needed them, without having to work around any building and architectural limitations. In other words, by working closely with the architect, PTC Group could bring its own architectural elements to the venue.

With the right skeleton in place, PTC Group turned to AV dealer Starlite Productions of Moorestown, N.J., for all the necessary gear. On PTC Group's shopping list was a host of Harman-brand components, including AKG microphones, BSS Audio signal processing, Crown Audio amplifiers, JBL speakers, and a Soundcraft mixer. "I appreciate the one-stop engineering," Powell says. "Harman was already installed within the casino, so management can now monitor and control both systems easily."

Throughout the sports bar, the design team was able to ensure that every single seat had an un­obstructed view of at least two flat-screen displays, although most seats can see many more, according to Powell. The large, open floor plan means patrons can cast their eyes toward one of four 110-inch displays to the left and right of the seating area, any of seven screens mounted throughout the main dining room, or one of the bank of 17 screens behind the bar. (At press time, Chickie's & Pete's was in negotiations to replace all the screens at the Parx Casino location with new models from Samsung and Sharp, though exact models had not yet been determined.)

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