Last week I got to be a panelist at the Sports Video Group Venue Technology Summit at New Meadowlands Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey last week. Great venue, great event, with over 200 people in the sports, entertainment, and technology business in attendance.
Scale aside, NMS has a very similar base setup as we do. Converged data network on the Cisco platform. Interesting to hear how similar their experience was compared to ours.
NMS is an interesting facility. Home to both the New York Giants and New York Jets, NMS strives to give a true “home field advantage” to both teams. “We have more shades of gray than any building ever built,” said Robert Jordan, VP of Design and Construction for NMS. Jordan said that they have over 700 physical elements that they change over from Jets to Giants as needed. Yikes.
The rest? Video. Everywhere. With 2300 TV screens and 4 large (30 x 118) LED displays in the bowl there’s definitely a lot of LED and video here. Jordan commented that while they may not have the biggest LED scoreboard in the league, he believes they have the most overall LED display in North America.
One neat feature were LED “pylons” that they have surrounding the perimeter. Ranging from 40 to 60 feet tall these screens show venue information as well as team branding. The Giants did a green screen shoot with their players, and they will randomly interject that between the still graphics. You can see players yelling down at people to “make sure you cheer loud in there” “hey you, fix your hat!” or in once case (can’t remember the player) a player is banging on the walls of the LED trying to escape. Might sound corny, but when you see it’s lots of fun and very engaging.
For me the most interesting thing was to hear the similarities between NMS and CONSOL. Faced with the same issues. How much infrastructure to put in? What are the black boxes at either end of those cables going to be? How do we prepare for the future?
In the end, we both decided upon a very similar setup. Converged data network brining all parties in the building onto one IT infrastructure. Lots of fiber everywhere. Data closets positioned so we have no cable run further than 300ft, and lots of expandability.
To be honest, those were some scary times during the project. Trying to predict what we were going to install down the road at a very early point in the project was unnerving, to say the least. We were trying to plan for technology that we ourselves weren’t even sure would end up as.
Peter Brickman, CTO at NMS alluded to the experience of having a broadcast TV background, yet sitting in meetings on purchasing cash registers and POS technology. Very funny. Talked to Peter afterwards and said it was funy that I sat in similar meetings for CONSOL, and had absolutely no idea why I was there.
As I’ve said before, it was both enriching and challenging, and it’s somewhat comforting to know that others have been down the exact same path, made similar decisions, and are now in the same technology sweet spot. Kindred spirits indeed.