Venue Technology Summit: From Street to Seat, Barclays Center Caters to Today’s Connected Fan
Emerging from the subway at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, it hits you: Barclays Center, designed to blend seamlessly into the surrounding neighborhood, can’t help but stand out. When it opened its doors in September 2012 — to eight sold-out Jay-Z performances — the venue positioned itself as the most technologically advanced arena to date. A year in, that emphasis on innovation rings true in every corner of Brooklyn’s newest landmark.
On Oct. 22, more than 175 industry professionals convened on the Brooklyn Nets’ practice court for SVG’s annual Venue Technology Summit. Attendees were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the venue, followed by an afternoon of informative panel discussions ranging from scoreboard–control-room technologies to the connected-fan experience to in-venue audio design.
Home to the revitalized Brooklyn Nets franchise and host to more than 200 events — including the 2013 NBA Draft and much tweeted-about MTV Video Music Awards — Barclays Center caters to the modern fan.
“Our goal is to have every fan have the best experience,” said Chip Foley, VP of technology, Forest City Ratner, the developer of Barclays Center. “We have almost 8,000 sq. ft. of LED in here, as well as the sound system, speaker arrays, and lighting. It’s like no other venue that you’ve ever seen before.”
An innovative approach to video is one of the defining characteristics of Barclays Center. The venue features a one-of-a-kind 360-degree oculus, center-hung HD videoboard, and more than 750 television screens. The Barclays Center app, powered by Cisco StadiumVision Mobile multicast streaming and supported by Cisco Connected Stadium WiFi, showcases additional live video feeds.
Director of Facilities Presentation Logan Meier manages the in-game presentation from a video-control room high above the court. Attendees were invited to check out the unique vantage point and chat with Meier’s team about the room’s technology and approach to video.
“The thing that I enjoy most is putting on a great show,” said Logan Meier. “Whether it’s Pearl Jam, where we’re also managing all the LEDs and sponsorship commitments, or the feeds that we’re providing for StadiumVision Mobile, how do we get people to utilize our building technology every single day when they come in? How do we really improve the guest experience while they’re here?”
Built in conjunction with Sony and integrated by Diversified Systems, the control room features Daktronics Venue 7000 and 8000 show controllers, a Sony MVS7000 production switcher, Harris Broadcast Platinum router, Chyron graphics equipment, EVS replay servers, point-to-point Riedel intercom, and four in-house Sony cameras. In addition to LED, the main bowl is covered with six line-array hangs featuring 10 EAW KF740 enclosures powered by 43 Lab.gruppen PLM 10000Q four-channel amplifiers designed by Parsons Technologies in collaboration with A/V consultant WJHW.
The tour of the 675,000-sq.-ft. venue included stops at the Barclays Center’s high-end offerings: luxury suites, which overlook the bowl and feature iPads for guest needs; the Calvin Klein Courtside Club, for courtside-seat patrons; the Vault, with its separate cabanas that Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and friends enjoy during halftime.
The truck bay may not be as sexy as the Vault, but attendees were no less intrigued by Barclays Center’s innovative approach to it. Because the venue sits in a residential area where space is at a premium, keeping production units on the street was not an option. So Barclays Center installed two truck elevators, each with a capacity for 80,000 lbs., and a rotating truck turntable.
Attendees also took note of the neutralizing scent that wafted through the venue, which came in handy when Barclays Center hosted the circus and the truck bay doubled as lodging for the elephants and tigers.
Following the tour and a networking lunch, the event continued with four panel discussions and a presentation by NSCA Executive Director Chuck Wilson. In addition, SVG debuted the Venue Tech Journal, a collection of the biggest venue stories from the past year. The inaugural Journal, which will be an annual publication, also features the SVG Venue Initiative White Paper: Recommendations for Sports Venue Production Design, an evolving document intended to provide guidelines for venue renovations and new builds.