With One Season in the Books, University of Washington’s Revamped Husky Stadium Hits Stride

Located in tech-savvy Seattle, the University of Washington’s newly renovated Husky Stadium epitomizes today’s “connected stadium.” In fact, the project extended beyond the footprint of Husky Stadium to connect the university’s basketball arena and baseball stadium on one network. 

An aerial video of University of Washington's Husky Stadium, which sits on the shores of Lake Washington in Seattle.

An aerial video of University of Washington’s Husky Stadium, which sits on the shores of Lake Washington in Seattle.

Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment SVP Robert Jordan, CFE, who spearheaded the renovation as venue consultant, reflected on the state-of-the-art venue he helped bring to life.

“The vision was to connect all of the University of Washington athletic facilities with one network, one control room; one IPTV (digital signage) deployment; one wireless solution (DAS and WiFi); one video production, distribution, and workflow; [and] the ability to do local mobile production at each venue,” said Jordan during a case study on the project at last month’s College Sports Summit. “[We worked] to maximize the guest experience and interaction, and increase the revenue stream.”

As the one year anniversary of its massive $280 million renovation approaches, key personnel from University of Washington noted how the overhauled video infrastructure supporting Husky Stadium, Alaska Airlines Arena, and [baseball stadium] has benefited game-day experience for the fans.

“The first season has gone extremely well,” says Carter Henderson, Assistant Athletic Director for Public Relations, University of Washington. “We made a few tweaks, like dimming the brightness of a few boards, and there will always be room for continued growth and improvement, but we’ve been very pleased with the new technologies and the impact they have made on our day-of-game experience.”

From The Ground Up
After breaking ground on the campus-wide project in November 2011, crews worked tirelessly to complete Husky Stadium in time for the football team’s season opener against Boise State in September 2013.

“It not only made sense to renovate Husky Stadium, it was necessary,” says Henderson. “The old structure was dilapidated, and began posing many safety and fan-service issues. Our fans call Husky Stadium ‘The Greatest Setting in College Football,’ as it sits on Lake Washington and features picturesque views of the Cascade Mountains. The renovation finally gives our fans a structure to match the setting.”

Husky Stadium's main video board sits in the east end zone.

Husky Stadium’s main video board sits in the east end zone.

The Husky Stadium project may be considered a renovation, but the end result bears virtually no resemblance to the venue’s previous iteration, which opened in 1920. Although the venue has undergone several upgrades since 1920, these pale in comparison to the massive structural, operational, and technological changes made to the stadium prior to the 2013 season.

On the stadium’s south side, both the lower bowl and upper deck were torn down and rebuilt. The stadium’s west side – opposite the open east side that faces Lake Washington – was moved closer to the field, and the field was lowered by several feet and moved slightly north.  Crews removed the running track that had long surrounded the field, bringing fan seating closer to the action.

For the first time, Husky Stadium fans will have access to 27 luxury suites, 65 patio suites, and 2,507 club seats. The renovation, which keeps stadium capacity just over 70,000, also included new locker rooms, weight rooms, training facilities, sports-medicine clinic, and office space.

And fans within the stadium will be able to stay connected, and share their game-day experience, thanks to an AT&T neutral-host DAS and Cisco Connected Stadium WiFi.

Upping Its Video Game, Campus-Wide
As part of the Husky Stadium renovation, Daktronics installed an integrated LED video display system on the stadium’s east side. The main video display, located in the end zone, measures 31 ft. tall by 108 ft. wide and features HD 13mm line spacing.  On the reverse side of the main display, Daktronics installed a secondary display measuring 24 ft. tall by 42 ft. wide to benefit those fans on boats docked in Lake Washington.

As part of the renovation process, Alaska Airlines Arena received new video boards, including a center-hung display.

As part of the renovation process, Alaska Airlines Arena received new video boards, including a center-hung display.

Husky Stadium also features a number of auxiliary corner displays, including two 16mm displays located in the corners of the stadium’s west end zone measuring 18 ft. tall by 31 ft. wide.

The venue’s fascia display comprises six different displays that added together measure more than 2,450 feet in total length; each display measuring just more than 2 feet tall. At the each end of the stadium, a delay-of-game video display measures 3.5 ft. tall by 3.5 ft. wide and a the east end, a field wall display measures 3.5 ft. tall by 169 ft. wide.

On the exterior of the stadium, Daktronics has added a street-level video display measuring 8 ft. tall by 16 ft. wide, as well as a marquee display measuring 8 ft. tall by 31 ft. wide.

“We are now able to show hi-definition live feed of the game and 4K-format videos, as well as offer more relevant in-game and on-the-fly stats on our big board via use of the Chyron,” says Jonathan Soriano, manager of digital signage, University of Washington. “Our goal is to make the game-day experience as immersive as possible and we will continue to purse that with our use of the boards.”

However, Husky Stadium isn’t the only beneficiary of new video displays.  Alaska Airlines Arena, home to University of Washington’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, received an integrated center-hung LED video display system. The center-hung display system includes two main LED video displays measuring roughly13.5 feet tall by 28 feet wide that are slightly angled down towards the stands, as well as two trapezoid shaped displays that measure 13.5 feet tall by 13 feet wide at the top and angling to 9.5 feet wide at the bottom.

In addition, Daktronics installed fascia installed 18 auxiliary LED displays of varying sizes, including two hoisted ribbon displays on each side of the court that measure 2 ft. tall by 120 ft. wide and 16 displays arranged above the player entrances in the corners of the arena.

University of Washington's video control room, located in Alaska Airlines Arena, features a variety of gear from Ross, NewTek, Imagine Communications, and more.

University of Washington’s video control room, located in Alaska Airlines Arena, features a variety of gear from Ross, NewTek, Imagine Communications, and more.

Husky Stadium and Alaska Airlines Arena, as well as Husky Ballpark (which recently underwent its own renovation, including an enhanced video board), are fibered to a single video control room, located within Alaska Airlines Arena.  The room features a 2 ME, 16-input Ross Carbonite switcher, Ross BlackStorm playout server, and Ross router; Imagine Communications (formerly Harris Broadcast) Selenio X50 frame synchronizer and converter; 8-channel NewTek 3Play replay server; Chyron graphics engine; and Daktronics Show Control.

As part of the Pac-12, the University of Washington worked to ensure that Husky Stadium would be able to accommodate the needs of Pac-12 Network and that all systems could integrate Pac-12 Network distribution and delivery of in-venue production to multiple simultaneous events.

“Pac-12 Networks has done a terrific job of educating all 12 institutions on the best ways to make our competition venues ‘TV-ready,’” says Henderson. “The new Husky Stadium was designed to be optimized for television broadcasts, and we’ve done additional work on other facilities to accommodate Pac-12 Networks broadcasts.”

Connecting the Connected Venues
Further connecting the on-campus venues, the University of Washington tapped Imagine Communications to handle the IPTV distribution throughout Husky Stadium, Alaska Airlines Arena, and Husky Ballpark. With an Imagine Communications Nexio Infocaster Manager head-end located in the basement of Alaska Airlines Arena and approximately 1,000 Infocasters located throughout Husky Stadium, the IPTV system distributes to upwards of 1,800 LG displays, including more than 1,000 in Husky Stadium alone.

Diversified Systems, a subcontractor on Imagine Communications’ IPTV installation, provided Cisco switching, routing, security, and wireless integration for the venues, installing more than 60 switches, a redundant core, and hundreds of wireless access points, wireless controllers, VPN firewall and access control.

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