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Controls Systems in Modern Stadiums

Modern sport stadiums aren't what they used to be. They're multipurpose venues whose AV systems must accommodate a wide variety of tenants. The control systems have changed, too.

Modern stadiums are a far cry from the sporting arenas of the past. They are multiĀ­purpose entertainment meccas that house restaurants, bars, and retail shops in addition to the playing field and seating bowl. Difficulty working on such large construction projects are compounded by the various AV needs throughout the stadium. As a result, stadium operators rely more and more on control systems to automate tasks, increase efficiency, and bring uniformity to stadium operations.

Sumanth Rayancha, chief technology officer at control system programming firm PepperDash Technology Corp., says joining a stadium project isn't any different than smaller projects.

"We are usually brought in by the AV consultant or systems integrator," he says. "However, I am seeing a change in when we're brought on board for really big projects. We're being brought in earlier, at the design phase, sometimes by the architect or building owners. Historically, control systems were a small portion of the project, but that is changing."

Why? "The AV equipment is becoming more complex, so control systems must be more complex too," he explains. "For example, the recording decks for pro video are specialty computers with multiple channels. Years ago, a stadium recording deck used to be a Betamax machine."

Rayancha points to the new Yankee Stadium as an example of a modern stadium project. "We worked with one AV consultant, but there were three systems integrators on the project. The stadium project included team offices, boardrooms, conference rooms, restaurant and bar systems, and then the stadium systems that are tied into the broadcast system," he says.

Another point he makes is that control system design is tricky in stadiums because broadcast professionals don't like automation. "So the goal is to build a consolidated user interface of their equipment and give them one place to access their racks of equipment," he adds. "It's different thinking because the AV equipment is in the hands of professional technical operators. They want something they're used to but that also makes their lives easier."

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