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Unique audio solution revealed at Canada’s Commonwealth Stadium

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Built for the 1978 Commonwealth Games, Canada’s Commonwealth Stadium is the country’s second largest outdoor sports venue. Seating 60,000 fans, the venue hosts soccer, Edmonton Eskimos football and other sporting and entertainment events. 

When the venue was built, most stadiums utilised an end-zone, scoreboard-mounted loudspeaker system. However, to minimise neighbourhood noise bleed, consultant Ken Dickensheets of Dickensheets Design in Austin, TX, designed the original system as a central loudspeaker array housed in a unique metal pod.  The pod was supported by four large aircraft cables and could be lowered to the ground for service.

This system served the stadium for several decades with voice-range audio. However, modern sports fans and associations like FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) now expect full-range audio for music and clear announcements that are loud enough to be heard over crowd noise. Thus, in 2013, the Stadium retained Aquila Productions in Edmonton, Alberta, to design a new system. Lead Consultant Vernon Mason of Aquila retained consultant Dale Fawcett of Orchestral Arts Consulting in Toronto to provide audio modelling and audio system design.

Unlike many modern stadiums, Commonwealth Stadium has no support structure for distributed loudspeaker arrays and neighbourhood noise bleed remained a concern. Thus, consultant Fawcett chose to retain the original central cluster design with a new central pod similar in size to the original and a loudspeaker system that would respect the weight limits of the support cables. He calculated that an array of Community R2 loudspeakers would meet these challenges, while achieving the Stadium’s goals for increased sound level and music quality.

Installed by Allstar Show Industries of Edmonton, and completed in early 2014, Commonwealth Stadium’s new system utilises thirty-two Community R2-52 loudspeakers arranged in four circles in the pod and aimed at the various seating areas of the venue. Under-balcony seating is covered by 107 Community W SERIES W2-218 loudspeakers and other areas are covered by R.5, R.25 and CS4 loudspeakers. Fawcett added a digital mixer and a Q-SYS DSP system and used eight Community dSPEC processors to manage and equalize the loudspeakers.

Fawcett noted:

The Community R SERIES allowed me to meet the stadium’s goals for audio level and quality and still fit within the space and weight limits of the central pod. The FIR filters in Community’s dSPEC made tuning easy and we achieved very even coverage with little or no neighbourhood noise bleed.



Images Courtesy: Community

Image captions:

Top: Commonwealth Stadium’s Unique Central Pod Loudspeaker Array

Below: Central Pod Drawing with Community R SERIES


Screen clean at US stadiums

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US professional stadiums continue to upgrade to attract international events and to keep spectators away from their TVs. EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, plans to install large scoreboards at each end of the stadium in time for the 2014 season. Cost will be $63 million and the Jaguars will be paying $20 million, the city the remainder. Team President Mark Lamping said:

Jaguars fans are going to fall in love with the new EverBank Field, We do not take for granted the emotional and financial investment of Jaguars fans.  In return, we’re doing everything we can to produce a winner on the field, but in the areas we control – like the in-stadium experience at EverBank Field – we owe our fans nothing less than the very best, and that’s what they can expect soon at EverBank Field.

Each scoreboard will be 55 feet high and 301 feet wide, making them the largest in the NFL. Dallas Stadium’s four scoreboards measure 72 feet by 160 feet and Reliant Stadium’s new screens are 52 feet by 277 feet.

The Jaguars are removing 7,000 seats. Other improvements are a new food, beverage and entertainment area in the north end zone with swimming pools that face the field. Lamping has concluded an agreement with the Jacksonville council so that the Jaguars will cover any cost overrun and also that if the project runs under budget, the funds will go towards stadium improvements.

Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, Iowa) is replacing an eight year old video board system with $9 million worth of large screen video display system within the existing south end zone structure, video displays in the northeast and northwest end zone corners and a ribbon display above the seating along the north side.