Alpha Video Overhauls Broadcast Infrastructure for St. Cloud State Athletics
In a letter addressed to the campus community of St. Cloud State University, President Earl H. Potter III announced a giant step forward in the school’s television-broadcasting capabilities: the step from analog to digital and high definition.
“This move is critical to the future of our Mass Communications Department, one of our largest academic programs, as they transform their curriculum and experiential learning opportunities for our students,” he writes. “Our investment will also showcase St. Cloud State, including the promotion of our branding strategies and entry into a new national hockey conference.”
Supporting St. Cloud State in its $4.8 million television-broadcast overhaul is the Alpha Video Sports & Entertainment Group, which was selected to integrate the Minnesota university’s campus-wide broadcast facilities, including the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. The project is scheduled to be completed before St. Cloud State’s first hockey game of the season in early October.
Outfitting Two Control Rooms
Located on the eastern edge of campus, on the banks of the Mississippi River, is Stewart Hall, home to St. Cloud State’s television studio and media facilities, including two control rooms: one designated specifically for sports production and one for news broadcasts.
“They have a very active curriculum,” says Darren Whitten, account executive, Alpha Video Sports. “The students actually work on productions for both news and sports events, so we’re updating both of those control rooms along with their studios, master-control room, and then also connecting out to their different venues via fiber, where they basically will have new HD camera positions for hockey, football, and basketball.”
St. Cloud State selected a Grass Valley Karrera switcher with panels for each control room and two eight-channel Grass Valley K2 Dyno replay servers. In addition, the university tapped Chyron for graphics, Evertz for routing and multiviewing, Tightrope Media Systems for master control, EditShare for shared storage and archiving, Panasonic for field acquisition, FUJINON for lenses, and Wheatstone for audio. Nine Grass Valley LDX cameras will pull double duty in the studios and in the venues.
Connecting Three Venues
After integrating the control rooms in Stewart Hall, Alpha Video will connect the control rooms to the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, Husky Stadium, and Halenbeck Hall. (The St. Cloud State hockey team competes in NCAA Division I and will join the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference in 2013. All other St. Cloud sports teams compete in Division II.)
The Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, built in 1989 and renamed in 2013 for the former St. Cloud State and U.S. Olympic coach, will receive the bulk of the planned in-venue upgrades. Alpha Video will provide triax cable and re-terminate existing cable for the various camera locations, add additional intercom and audio connectivity, install cameras in the goals and penalty boxes, and distribute microphones around the glass.
The 5,763-seat hockey facility is currently in the midst of its own $14.5 million upgrade, which is slated for completion this month. The upgrades include a spacious atrium, new west-end seating, expanded suites and club-level seating, wider concourses, team store overlooking the atrium, and improved training facilities.
Husky Stadium, home to St. Cloud State’s football team, and Halenbeck Hall, housing the university’s main, 7,500-seat gym, will also receive enhanced connectivity for camera positions.
Prepping Students for the Future
Husky Productions, managed and staffed by mass-communications students, broadcasts St. Cloud State men’s hockey. Men’s and women’s hockey are broadcast locally and streamed on America ONE Sports.com and can be watched live or on demand on desktops and mobile devices. Live video streaming is available for selected home and away games in football, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, and selected additional sports.
According to Whitten, St. Cloud was looking to model its broadcast facilities on what students would see in the field after leaving the program.
“They really wanted to try to build that core to be one of the best in the country,” says Whitten. “They’re [going to provide] a full end-to-end, broadcast-quality type of curriculum. When you take a look around at the Midwest, outside of maybe a Columbia College, there really isn’t anybody at this level that’s doing what they’re doing.”