College World Series’ New Home Is Geared for Complex Audio
The College World Series takes place next week for the first time in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship’s new home, the TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. The new $128 million downtown stadium has seating for 24,000 fans, including 26 luxury suites and 1,000 club seats, and retail space that is expected to make it a destination location beyond baseball. The facility also has lots of DP-12 fiber cabling in order to meet ESPN’s ambitious audio aspirations for the CWS.
According to Mike Maryott, video productions coordinator for the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority, which operates the stadium, the cabling plan was developed with both the stadium’s and ESPN’s needs in mind.
“ESPN had a lot of requirements in the outfield for audio signals,” he says, “so we ran a lot of single-mode fiber from a central patch point just beyond the ‘batter’s eye’ past the centerfield fence and on out to the area where ESPN’s broadcast trucks will be. We did the same, running fiber from there to the pitcher’s mound and the batter’s box.” An RF audio-distribution point is located near third base, as it was at the previous venue, Rosenblatt Stadium.
Maryott says the stadium has more cabling than most in its class: fiber, triaxial, and coaxial.
“ESPN loves to get that ‘ping,’” he says, referring to the signature sound made by the aluminum bats used by most NCAA baseball divisions. “They’ll be able to pick it up better than ever before now.”
This will also be the first CWS broadcast in discrete 5.1 surround, notes Kevin Cleary, senior producer for ESPN special events.
Stevie Kaura Jr., the A1 on the CWS, is looking forward to the additional dimensionality: “We’re going to use it to bring the crowd in closer in the rear channels.”
The additional cabling provides more microphones to make the crowd sounds denser and also allows individual sounds, like vendors, to be pulled into focus without taking away from the main-play audio. “I love the singing and the chanting that’s part of the Series every year,” says Kaura, nine-time CWS mix veteran. “It was hard to push that at the old Rosenblatt stadium.”
Billy Fuchs handles the submixes on a DiGiCo SDTenB console.
As always, the signature sound of the CWS and college baseball in general is the clang of the aluminum bat. That will be picked up by Sony ECM 50 lavalier microphones buried 4-5 ft. on either side of home plate. Each is encased in PVC and covered with one hard windscreen and two soft ones, just peeking out from the ground. They are augmented by the lavalier worn by the home plate umpire. In fact, says Kaura, all the field umpires will be miked this year.
The bullpens at the new stadium are in the outfield, instead of near the base paths as at Rosenblatt. Kaura, who is mixing on a Calrec Sigma with Bluefin in the NCP 11 mobile, is extending the cabling at first and third bases out to each bullpen to pull in that audio.
“We’re making this complex but subtle mix,” he says. “We’re looking for the nuance in the games as well as the big sound in the 5.1.”