NAB 2022

NAB 2022 Perspectives: Crown Castle's Anush Sarabakhsh on Powering Connectivity Within SoFi Stadium, Other Sports Venues

Professional and collegiate sports venues in the United States continue to pop up every year. As buildings continue to fill up with fans returning to their seats, sure-fire connectivity has become an essential piece of the gameday puzzle. As one of the more active companies in the market, Crown Castle is supplying services and solutions for high-profile facilities across the nation. Since 1994, the company has worked to build and maintain their infrastructure of towers, small cells, and fiber to give customers essential data, technology, and wireless service.

At NAB 2022, Senior Account Executive Anush Sarabakhsh highlighted some of their high-profile partnerships in the sports market, how the company sidestepped the pandemic to complete their work at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, how supply-chain issues were no match to their preparedness, and more.

The Crown Castle team highlighted high-quality services and flexible solutions at Booth W8626 in the West Hall.

How has Crown Castle performed in the sports market recently?
In my role, I’m primarily responsible for coming up with unique and customized solutions for our clients. SoFi Stadium was a really great win for us, but the biggest take away is the fact that we bring in about $8 billion in revenue per year. CEO Jay Brown and Vice President, Sales Jeff Baker have really put it upon us to be creative, take our assets, reach across the aisle to our fiber, small-cell team, macro site, and venue teams, and ask, “How can we come together to  come up with a really outside-the-box solution?”

How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your role at SoFi Stadium?
That was a 150% team effort. We have the ability to have two different data centers coming out of there, which means it’s fully redundant. In regards to the installation process, our teams moved mountains to have us ready for the opening season [at the end of 2020]. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’ve never seen a team move in such a way that prioritized [the completion of] this network. When Super Bowl LVI was there, we took those two circuits to stop other traffic on our network and prevent anything else from affecting it.

Is the company involved at any other sports facilities?
The Arizona Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium is our client, and right across the street, they’re building something called Crystal Lagoon that’s akin to the campus of SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park with a lake, condos, hotels, and retail space. We’re currently working with them right now to expand their entire network [to reach] over there. Currently, we have the LA Coliseum, so we installed a ton of fiber optics and small cells around there for whenever the USC Trojans play there.

Is the current state of supply chain affecting your work?
Crown Castle did a very good job of foreshadowing the implications, so we bought excessive inventory in advance. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we never had any supply-chain issues and actually grew [our business]. The only issue we did have was needing extra lead time on all of the opportunities that we received. Businesses with remote workers realized that [their network] can’t be down, we were getting deal after deal as soon as they were free to make a decision because they understood what we’re capable of.

What goals are you looking to achieve by the end of 2022?
Whether it was too expensive or wasn’t viable at the time, we want to go out there and uncover solutions that we have never done. What we once tried to do and had on our wishlist is now something that we’re capable of doing now, so by this time next year, we’ll have some more success stories.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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