Alpha Video Brings KU’s Memorial Stadium into HD Age

As the University of Kansas’ Memorial Stadium approaches its 89th birthday this October, the legendary venue is finally undergoing a much-needed renovation, highlighted by an all new HD control room courtesy of Alpha Video. The control room will feed the stadium’s brand new Daktronics HD LED video board that replaces an aging standard definition display, which was installed back in 1999.

“It’s a huge upgrade for [Kansas] at their facility,” says Jeff Volk, director, Alpha Video Sports & Entertainment Group. “Previously, they had a much older video board and their control room was entirely analog composite. [The stadium] hasn’t really had any substantial upgrades for a number of years, so they’re making quite a technology leap.”

Having upgraded the facilities at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse four years ago, Alpha was once again selected to oversee the control room construction at the home of Kansas football. For the Allen Fieldhouse renovation, Alpha installed a standard definition control room with a backbone that would allow Kansas to upgrade to HD at a future date. In the case of Memorial Stadium, however, Kansas will immediately go full HD and plans to have the project completed by April, just in time for the Kansas Relays and the Kansas spring football game.

“We’re installing the control room with phase one of the construction to be completed by mid April,” says Volk. “The new Daktronics HD video display is being installed right now and will also be ready for the relays and spring football.”

The control room is based around a Ross Video Vision 2 switcher and is outfitted with a Harris routing switcher and multi-image viewer, an EVS slo-motion system, Click-Effects CrossFire graphics, Ensemble Designs terminal equipment, and Sony XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX VTR’s. The control room will also employ three Sony HXC-100 cameras, which will be used for games as well as studio productions.

“We love the HXC100’s because a lot of our clients that want to make the move to HD have existing triax infrastructures,” says Volk. “Since the HXC 100s work natively over that existing triax infrastructure at a very affordable price entry point, it makes logical sense for a lot of our customers. It gives them functionality and image quality at a low price point without having to go through an expensive fiber conversion at their facility.”

Mike Lickert, director of Rock Chalk Video at Kansas Athletics, seconds this notion: “A lot of places are going with fiber and one of the advantages for us with these cameras is that they’re triax based. We already have an existing triax network in our stadium so we’ don’t have to go and relay a bunch of fiber and then get a bunch of new equipment.”

Lickert adds that by using the HXC100’s on a triax network and avoiding the installation of an entirely new fiber optic infrastructure, KU has saved $30,000-40,000 on the renovation project.

The control room is not the only HD conversion going down at Memorial Stadium, however, as Alpha Video is also upgrading the school’s in-house production studio, which will be used to produce The Bill Self Show (men’s basketball), The Bonnie Hendrickson Show (women’s basketball), and a new Kansas football program featuring recently-named head coach Turner Gill.

“[The studio and the control room] are right next door to each other,” says Lickert. “This control room will be used for gameday production, but then switch a few wires and it becomes the control room for all our television shows as well. We’ll be using all the same equipment for shows as we do for the games, including the cameras.”

The new-look Memorial Stadium will open for the Kansas Relays April 14-17, with the Kansas spring football game hitting the field on April 25.

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