Red Bull Arena Upgrades Control Room on the Fly

KMH Audio-Video Integration, Sony Electronics play major role in bolstering the New Jersey-based soccer stadium

Upgrading and renovating an in-stadium control room can be challenging enough, but, when it needs to be done amid a very crowded event schedule, one needs to be exceptionally strategic in planning and execution to stay online.

Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls undertook this task prior to the start of this season. With the help of systems integrator KMH Audio-Video Integration, it loaded up on new gear from Sony Electronics to bring expanded replay capabilities to its videoboard shows and a whole lot more.

“The technology upgrades we have made with Sony Electronics and KMH are part of the ongoing commitment to our fans in providing the best possible experience at Red Bull Arena,” says Joe Stetson, VP, marketing and communications, New York Red Bulls. “Feedback from our supporters has been extremely positive thus far, and we look forward to many more enhancements as the result of this collaboration.”

Red Bull Arena, which opened in 2010, is by no means an old stadium, but an upgrade to the facility’s control room and audio/video infrastructure was necessary to take the stadium’s fan experience to the next level. The goal was to give the Red Bulls video team the ability to more efficiently share and distribute file-based content for baseband playout.

Refurbishing the control room was handled in portions so that the stadium could remain active during a crowded MLS schedule and an event calendar that includes other events, such as International, club friendlies and, soon, concerts.

“These kinds of projects are very closely coordinated with the manufacturer (in this case, Sony) and with the end user, because you don’t have a clean space to go into and just have at it,” says Kevin Henneman, president, KMH Audio-Video Integration. “You have to be able to target the individual subsystems to be upgraded while being able to turn it around relatively quickly so the end user can use it.”

The facility added a Sony BRC camera installed high above the field’s halfway line to provide a bird’s-eye perspective, a collection of Sony HSC-100 studio and wireless cameras with Fujinon lenses, a Sony PWS-4500 production server and MVS switchers, Sony Optical Disc Archive technology, a Studio Network Solutions EVO SAN for media management, a ChyronHego Lyric graphics system, an RTS Zeus III intercom, and Avocent KVM system.

“If you break it down to its bare pieces, a control room is a control room is a control room,” says Deon LeCointe, manager, IP Production Technology and Sports Solutions, Sony Electronics. “You have acquisition, production switchers, replay, graphics. That becomes the same across the board. Where it really gets interesting is when you get the chance to design an experience specific to that end user. What an NFL team might want to do in their control room is very different from what an MLS team may want to do in theirs, but both teams have to be focused on the fan experience.”

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