Georgia Tech Transforms McCamish Pavilion
Technically speaking, Georgia Tech’s Hank McCamish Pavilion may be a renovation (and renaming) of Alexander Memorial Coliseum, but you wouldn’t know it. With the exception of the roof and supporting steel structure, the home of Yellow Jackets basketball is an entirely new facility, outfitted with better seating, wider concourses, and upgraded broadcast infrastructure.
The $45 million renovation, which began in May 2011 and was completed prior to the 2012-13 basketball season, brings fans closer to the game action with courtside seating for VIPs and students alike, Daktronics video displays, and more than 60 TVs spaced throughout the concourse.
“We had a very traditional style of arena that just had portals from the concourse that led you into the event space,” explains Andy Blanton, director of video operations, Georgia Tech Athletic Association. “With this new renovation, we blew all the portals out and opened it up, so, as you walk around the concourse, you can literally look around and see directly down to the playing surface. You’re never disconnected. You can always see a large screen display, walking around the concourse or at the concession stand, or you can even see the four-sided face of the video board from nearly anywhere in the building.”
At the center of the 8,600-seat McCamish Pavilion is a four-sided video board equipped with four Daktronics displays, each measuring approximately 11½ by 16 ft. Because the roof was not replaced, the university had to ensure that the existing roof could withstand the weight of a center-hung video board.
“[It] was a challenge because the building was not engineered to support a very heavy structure,” says Blanton, “so we had to pay very close attention to the weight limits.”
The center-hung display, which also includes a halo underneath, features video and scoreboard information. Daktronics also provided a 360-degree fascia board along the upper deck, as well as scoreboards and timing systems for the scorers tables.
Prior to constructing the video control room, Georgia Tech consulted with Anthony James Partners and worked closely with ESPN to ensure that the room would be compatible with the network’s production needs.
The control room is anchored by a complement of Ross Video equipment, including the Carbonite 2M/E switcher, XPression graphics system, and BlackStorm playout server.
“We can create the look of ESPN and also kind of a dual show out of the control room, so that the fans in the [arena] don’t necessarily feel like they’re watching the ESPN production; they get a more tailored production for them,” says Blanton. “Meanwhile, while we’re doing that, we’re also subswitching on the other mix effect [for] the ESPN look.”
The university selected four Hitachi Z-HD5000 cameras with ENG-style 24X lenses with 2X extenders, and two Panasonic AW-HE120 robotic cameras.
Additionally, the room features a four-in, four-out Tightrope Media Systems ZEPLAY replay server, Sierra Video Lassen 32×32 router, Yamaha 32-channel (16 analog, 16 digital) audio board, Click Effects Blaze and CrossFire systems, Panasonic AG-HMR10 recorders for archiving purposes, and Adobe Creative Suite 6 for editing. Because ESPN prefers 720p for its productions and the room is native to 1080i, Georgia Tech also included AJA Video Systems FS1 frame synchronizers for crossconversion.
The near-total demolition of Alexander Memorial Coliseum gave Georgia Tech the opportunity to completely replace the broadcast infrastructure, much of which was left over from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, when the facility hosted boxing. The university installed SMPTE fiber for in-house production, as well as triax, coax, and standard XLR connections for audio.
“We certainly have more than we know what to do with,” says Blanton of the facility’s upgraded broadcast capabilities. “We’re still continuing to learn and get better at utilizing the system that we have. We had very little time from the time that [the arena] was actually completed to our first run of events, so we learn more ways to use what we have each and every event. It certainly has met and exceeded our expectations overall.”