Despite Timing and Tornados, Bexel Overhauls Broadcast Infrastructure at Rangers Ballpark
With two World Series appearances in the past two years and an MLB-leading 50 wins so far this season, the Texas Rangers consistently draw the attention of a local, national, and international audience. However, this media influx recently drew attention to a glaring problem with the 18-year-old Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The team on the field could handle the mounting media pressure; the broadcast infrastructure could not.
The Rangers called on Bexel to implement a major broadcast-infrastructure overhaul of the facility, including more than 70,000 ft. of new triax cable, 25,000 ft. of 12-pair audio cables, and 27,000 ft. of 12-strand single-mode fiber.
As Bexel worked to demolish 10,000 lb. of existing triax cable, the Rangers were in the midst of a significant renovation that included construction of a two-story restaurant, sports bar, and a 100-seat Batter’s Eye Club at center field.
“Our goal was to replace the majority of the broadcast infrastructure in time for Opening Day,” says Justin Paulk, manager, Bexel Broadcast Fiber Solutions. “Bexel also provided on-site coordination with the general contractor for the new center-field construction, ensuring that the cable runs required under Bexel’s contract and those associated with the new center-field locations were closely coordinated to eliminate damage and maximize the efficiency of the installation.”
In addition, the team equipped the facility with 96 new triax connectors, replaced all panels, and reterminated all the existing audio and added 132 audio pairs.
“We made the decision that, if we were going to redo [anything], we would redo all of the panels because, if you walk up and half of [the panels are] old and had been there for 12 years and the other half [are] new, it didn’t look right,” says Paulk. “[Now] they have new panels on everything, everything’s labeled properly, everything is back up and functioning 100%.”
Bexel kept some of the newer existing triax, which was installed when the scoreboard was updated in 2010, moved the existing audio cable over to the new panels, and added more channels of fiber and audio.
On April 23, the Rangers hosted the New York Yankees in a nationally televised game. Although the Rangers ultimately fell to the Yankees, Rangers Senior Director of Broadcasting Angie Swint points to this game as a win for the broadcast infrastructure.
Her team was able to accommodate five telecasts, including the Rangers’ home television network and Spanish-language network, YES Network, ESPN, and NHK. (Although Yu Darvish was not on the mound on April 23, the Japanese broadcaster is covering the team for viewers in Japan. To accommodate NHK, Bexel also added SMPTE fiber cable, including two SMPTE runs to center field and six pairs of audio and six fiber strands to an auxiliary interview room for the pitching phenom.)
“We’ve been able to accommodate everyone that’s been in here with actual cabled runs to the locations that they’re trying to shoot from,” says Swint. “We’ve had probably six or seven games so far this year where we’ve had at least five telecasts in at the same time, which is a strain on any facility, but, with our new infrastructure, we’re able to accommodate everyone. We don’t have cables draped along the outside of the building; everything is professionally run and tucked away like it should be.”
While the Rangers’ impressive postseason run was great for fans, it drastically cut the timeline for Bexel to overhaul the broadcast infrastructure to less than two months.
“In conjunction with that, we also had this huge project going on in center field where one half of the ballpark was shut down beginning the day after [Game 5] of the World Series and ending in late March,” says Swint. “[When] Bexel could actually get into center field, which was probably early to mid March, they had some long days of getting everything run that needed to be into center.”
Not even a force of nature could keep Bexel from finishing the project before Opening Day on April 6.
“Despite delays caused by tornados in North Texas, we completed the project in about two months,” says Paulk. “It was definitely an exciting project to be a part of for us.”