April 18, 2011 By Arlen Schweiger
It’s no surprise the Oklahoma City Thunder cracked the top 10 in NBA team merchandise sales for the first time during the 2010-11 season. The former Seattle SuperSonics franchise has injected hoops enthusiasm into the Sooner State, led by two-time scoring champ Kevin Durant, whose individual jersey sales ranked No. 7 this season.
Complementing the exciting young team is an arena that has been undergoing renovations to stay ahead of the technology curve.
Oklahoma City-based integrator ProAD A/V Design and Integration has had a hand in the multiphase, multimillion-dollar upgrades to Oklahoma City Arena, including the A/V and control installation in the revamped Thunder Shop.
Photos: Cool A/V Makes OKC Thunder Arena Shop a Slam Dunk
At roughly 2,000 square feet, the store almost doubles its previous size. ProAD worked with systems designs from Morgan Highley of SAIC Energy Environment and Infrastructure to outfit the shop with four projection systems, 17 speakers and eight subwoofers mounted in the ceiling, an iPod dock and five room controllers, plus a flat-panel TV just outside the entrance.
“We were doing another phase, working on putting in a Crestron RoomView system to control all the [more than 300] displays on the concourses, suites and loge boxes, and audio on the lower level,” says ProAD general manager Chris Neal. “This was actually a phase that got broken out of that phase, and since we were already there … it made sense to have the same integrator take care of the Thunder Shop.”
Neal says the company did bid separately for this job apart from ProAD’s overall work on the renovation, and based on Highley’s specs the project bid was $97,500 including labor. (Incidentally, the Thunder fans are also treated to one of the best video scoreboards in the league.)
The biggest obstacle, Neal notes, was that his team of three installers and a programmer only had 12 weeks once it the project was awarded.
That led to some stress over the video. An eight-to-10 week lead-time on the custom Stewart Filmscreen StarGlas models didn’t leave room for any project delays or miscues.
The 48-by-38-inch StarGlas screens went up last, as part of an eye-catching circular design above the registers. “It was a little nerve-wracking putting those up,” Neal says of the tempered-glass screens.
ProAD installed four Christie Digital projectors in an X pattern within the tight quarters between the rear-projection displays, so light does cross paths among their 5-foot, 4-inch throw distances. “We got the OK from Christie and Morgan to make sure it worked, and then were able to mock it up and test it,” says Neal. “There was almost no tolerance — if they were an inch closer, it wouldn’t have worked.”
The JBL 47CT speakers and Electro-Voice subwoofers deliver even, quality audio coverage, aided by a BSS Audio Blu-100 digital signal processor that dialed in room acoustics to overcome sonic obstacles like the terrazzo floor. Everything’s wired back to a Middle Atlantic rack behind closed doors.
ProAD played well in the clutch to hit its deadline for the shop’s grand opening on Dec. 1, and the Thunder gave fans some extra shopping incentive by reaching the playoffs.