Climate Pledge Arena Gives Seattle Sports Fans New Venue To Enjoy
Diversified supplied control room, sound, AV, ice-projection technologies
Seattle has released the Kraken, and Climate Pledge Arena is harnessing the city’s passion for the newest club in the National Hockey League. Housed under the 44 million-pound roof of the original Century 21 Exposition historic landmark, the venue exhibits some of the league’s most technologically advanced and eye-popping game presentations. Tapped by the Kraken, Diversified supplied its control room, sound, AV, and ice-projection technologies.
It’s one thing for a team to get into a new facility and learn new workflows,” says Brad Fisher, senior account executive, Diversified, “but it’s another thing to build a franchise. What [the Kraken] had to do was monumental.”’
Next Chapter in Seattle: Project Works Around Supply-Chain Delays
To get to the point where fans can enjoy the spectacle that is Kraken hockey, Diversified has dealt with the numerous challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the doors were officially opened last October, the onsite construction team and the systems integrator navigated supply-chain issues experienced throughout the country last spring and summer. Working alongside Mortenson, a Minneapolis-based general contractor, Diversified’s team in Seattle faced a shortened timeline.
System integration is normally rife with obstacles: working around the physical construction, finding enough time in a day to install certain hardware or software, and, in this instance, creating the right atmosphere to test out the system.
“Finishing up the ice-projection system was also on a compressed schedule,” adds Fisher. “We couldn’t find time for the arena to be completely dark because [other crews] were working in the lower bowl.”
While focused on completing the job in Seattle, Diversified was also part of an NHL project on the East Coast: the New York Islanders’ UBS Arena in Belmont, NY. Supply-chain issues affected that effort as well, but the company assigned separate teams to the projects, with different project managers directing the crews.
In the Pacific Northwest, the crew worked closely with the production staff of the Kraken — including SVP, Live Entertainment and Game Presentation, Jonny Greco and VP, Entertainment Experience and Production, Lamont Buford — to bring their creative dreams to life. Working in a metropolis dominated by four-time WNBA champion Seattle Storm, two-time MLS Cup winner Seattle Sounders, Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks, and the Seattle Mariners, the duo was ready to fire up a fanbase craving the area’s first professional hockey team since the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds were founded in 1971. To make their ambitions reality, Greco and Buford worked extensively with Diversified Project Manager Mike Meglathery.
“This was an extremely fun project to work on because they truly had a clean slate,” Meglathery says. “There was a lot of brainstorming and throwing ideas around, but it got down to building as much flexibility as possible to leave room for future growth.”
At the Foundation: System Integrator Provides Key Infrastructure
The crown jewel of Climate Pledge Arena, the production-control room is based on 1080p 60-fps workflows. At its core is a Ross Acuity 3M/E switcher with XPression graphics and XPression Clips server. Evertz gear on hand features an EQX16 router with eight VIPX multiviewers, an analog router with Dante-to-MADI conversion, and, for replay, two DreamCatcher operator stations with 16 channels of 3G capture and eight channels of 12G capture. Video processing is via 18 AJA FS-HDR processors. Adder’s Infinity Series allows KVM anywhere in the building on the production team’s converged network.
In the lower bowl, the show is driven by five Grass Valley hard cameras — four LDX 100’s with native IP and 12G licenses and an LDX 100 with native IP and 12G 3X high speed — that are IP-connected to Grass Valley IPGs through a Cisco Nexus switch. Three wireless cameras — Grass Valley LDX 86N’s with integrated WaveCentral wireless links and full paint control — are also part of the mix, able to roam outside for exterior shots. The eight cameras are outfitted with Canon lenses: five with a CJ20ex5B lens, three with an XJ90X8.8B.
Twelve other cameras are part of the complement at Climate Pledge Arena: eight Panasonic PTZs (three overhead to the left, middle, and right of the ice floor, one on the host stage, one for crowd shots in the atrium, one for interviews, one in the adjacent Seattle Center Armory, and one outside for views of the roof and the Space Needle) and four Marshall POVs. The Kraken’s wireless coverage is also augmented by a WaveCentral receiver to integrate video feeds from ROOT SPORTS Northwest’s linear broadcasts.
For internal communications, the team has deployed Riedel Artist-64 Matrix intercom with direct SMPTE 2110-30 audio to each LDX 100 camera. Real-time dialogue is maintained through 21 user panels, 25 Riedel Bolero beltpacks, and 13 Bolero antennas.
Besides the control room, Diversified has left its mark on other areas of the in-venue experience. In addition to the main production tools used for home games, Diversified was responsible for the building’s sound system and audio technology, cloud-based IPTV systems in the venue and the exterior plaza, and outdoor LCD displays. To keep fans informed of upcoming events and other pertinent information about the Kraken, screens are dispersed throughout the Seattle Center campus.
One of Diversified’s more prominent installations is the high-quality ice-projection system used prior to puck drop. The infrastructure wasn’t ready for the team’s home opener vs. Vancouver on Oct. 23, but the presentation amazed fans at its debut vs. Los Angeles on Jan. 15. Deploying Barco’s 45,000-ANSI-lumen projectors and the two dual-sided, triangular-shaped videoboards, Greco — who produced pregame entertainment for the Vegas Golden Knights as their VP and chief experience officer from 2017 to ’19 — and Buford developed an “ominous” introduction that concludes with the reveal of a gigantic Kraken projected on the venue’s north wall via 16- x 9-ft. projectors.
“It was a real challenge to get the focal planes figured out to avoid obstruction from the displays,” says Fisher. “The team ultimately got it right, and the intro looks great.”
Heavy lifts like the pregame sequence require massive coordination between individuals on the production staff, but, because technologies can go awry and require a quick fix, Diversified is maintaining support throughout the team’s inaugural season. In addition, given those pesky supply-chain delays, the system integrator is continuing to add integral elements to the control room.
“We’ve definitely done a fair amount of phone support,” says Meglathery. “We’ve had an onsite presence at the arena for about a quarter of the events, but the team that the Kraken hired were all experienced from other venues around the country.”
Technical support also includes fine-tuning specific workflows. In this case, the in-venue crew consistently tinkers with audio in the lower bowl to find the sweet spot that matches the desired intensity.
“When you’re first working with the sound system, you’re doing it with empty seats,” Fisher points out. “Before you know it, there’s a packed house with 19,000 people, so you have to tweak it a little bit as you go.”
A New Legacy: Diversified, Kraken Strive for Captivating Environment
The Kraken are nearing the conclusion of their first season, and, although postseason hockey will have to wait for another year, the fanbase and organization are excited for what’s to come at Climate Pledge Arena. Also providing production technology at Acrisure Arena, home to the Kraken’s American Hockey League affiliate in Thousand Palms, CA, Diversified is engrained in the future of the NHL’s 32nd club.
“With a new building and team, [Climate Pledge Arena] was definitely a premium venue that we wanted to work on,” says Chris Sullivan, VP, business development, sports and live events, Diversified. “It doesn’t get any better than Seattle, and we’re thrilled to be part of this project.”
The Seattle Kraken have 11 home games remaining in their inaugural season at Climate Pledge Arena: Tampa Bay (3/16 at 10 p.m. ET), Detroit (3/19 at 10 p.m.), Vegas (3/30 at 10 p.m. and 4/1 at 10 p.m.), Dallas (4/3 at 9 p.m.), Calgary (4/9 at 7 p.m.), New Jersey (4/16 at 10 p.m.), Ottawa (4/18 at 10 p.m.), Colorado (4/20 at 10 p.m.), Los Angeles (4/27 at 10 p.m.), and San Jose (4/29 at 10 p.m. ).