Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee is known as one of the nation’s elite research universities and, while superior academics is a priority and guiding philosophy, athletics also take a starring role at the Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Seminoles opened the 2016 season with a new video distribution and display solution, encompassed by some 10,000 square feet of high-definition audiovisual and the tallest video board structure in football broadcasting in 1080p HD.
Now, thanks to additional upgrades and renovations at the Doak Campbell Stadium Champion’s Club inside the venue, the entertainment experience has been further elevated with technology from Contemporary Research Corp. of Addison, Texas.
Contemporary Research (CR) designs, engineers and manufactures HDTV modulators, IPTV encoders, HDTV tuners and control products to deliver integrated solutions for digital RF and IP networks.
Trending Audiovisual Amenities
“We set out to accomplish two things – we wanted to build a year-round facility within an athletic stadium and offer a premium experience for fans,” says Vincent Kutz, senior VP in charge of special projects for Seminole Boosters. He added that most athletic stadiums are vastly underused, usually only during game days.
“We wanted to create a great game day, something better than what fans can get at their home on the couch with a big-screen television, as well as a weekend experience to entertain from Friday through Sunday. There’s a new mixed-use complex next to the Doak Campbell Stadium with restaurants and apartments for students. Our fans often travel a long way to the games, so we owe it to them to provide a stellar experience,” Kutz says.
The vision behind the CR project included integrating two separate areas with the latest high-definition televisions, digital signage, menu boards, audio and WiFi in the Champion’s Club, a VIP section of the Doak Campbell Stadium. The renovation and new construction included building out a new floor with indoor and outdoor seating on the fourth level of the stadium and installing and upgrading technology on the sixth floor – formerly a rooftop area with outdoor access and limited audiovisual amenities.
According to George Schwigk, technology specialist at Florida State University, the video distribution projects were custom-designed for the Champion’s Club VIP sections at the south end zone of the Doak Campbell Stadium and featured CR head end controllers, distribution and software.
“The project was highly successful and created a comfortable, club-like environment for people to watch the games or for special private events,” says Schwigk. “It’s been so seamless and easy to use the CR solution and it’s turned into an awesome experience for visitors.”
The FSU project included the Contemporary Research display control system including: RS-232 controllers; Ethernet head end and control software on a PC (Display Express). Anthony James Partners of Richmond, Va., was the project consultant on the AV side and integrator Comprehensive Technical Group (CTG) of Atlanta was the systems solution contractor for the installation.
The fourth-floor area of the Champion’s Club was originally an open, undeveloped space and now includes some 100 televisions and other AV amenities. All indoor televisions are LG 55-inch HDTV and outdoor displays are SunBrite models in a variety of sizes. Televisions optimize viewing and include units outside elevator towers and positioned on stadium overhangs.
Indoor and outdoor speakers are JBL Professional Control 29AV with some flush ceiling mount. The digital signage system is controlled with CastNET distribution software and Crestron integrated AV controls and digital switchers are used in private event spaces.
The existing sixth floor was also retrofitted with the latest CR video distribution technology in two large, newly created covered areas. Enclosed seating and LED ribbon boards were installed, as well as SunBrite televisions, bars, concession style kitchens and areas with Philips Color Kinetics LED lighting systems with Pharos lighting controls.
Champion’s Club Leverages Existing Coaxial
The CR video distribution solution is integrated seamlessly to the campus Comcast Seminole Cable Vision Network and leverages existing unused internal channels for live broadcasting feeds.
“We had to input some of the digital signage channels to the cable network where available and distributed that to all the televisions,” says Schwigk.
The ability to use existing coaxial cable with the CR video system enabled FSU to make use of distribution channels without a separate IPTV control infrastructure, he says.
“We were able to tap into the existing cable to control everything from the same base system as well as run the CastNet digital signage application,” says Schwigk. “There weren’t any major challenges with the installation, except where new cabling and connectivity had to be run through solid walls and other obstacles.
“We’re extremely happy with the results from Contemporary Research products and the Display Express Software. It was easy to learn the software and we use it daily. We haven’t even scratched the surface of all the potential capabilities,” he says.
FSU tech specialists can control groups of televisions based on certain seating sections and areas and change the group as a whole or individually,” says Schwigk.
“We can also schedule each television with different presets for digital signage or advertising or messages depending on what’s happening on game day, or to provide current information on food service menus,” he says.
“I can set up different users with various levels of access to what they specifically need to control. It’s all controlled via our network so we don’t need any special apps or devices. Authorized users simply log into the IP address and can control everything.”
The system, in addition to being flexible in use and application, also readily allows for cost-effective upgrades as FSU’s needs change or new areas are added.
“The CR system works with all kinds of televisions and can be retrofitted simply with additional controllers, not requiring a massive overhaul,” says Schwigk.