This approach served several purposes — it created a production-line type of workflow (the Integration Factory increased its manpower by 50 percent for this job) that let workers on the concourses wire and install the pre-assembled units, and it kept the packaging materials off the concourses and grandstand.
“Otherwise, we would have been hauling the [packaging] twice — once up and once again back down,” says Savage. “It’s all time and labor and ends up costing time and money, especially over those kinds of distances.”
He estimates that workers walked between four and eight miles a day on the project.
The Back Story
Practices like those were duly noted, because Daytona Rising isn’t just another NASCAR track — it’s the template for the sport’s venues going forward.
NASCAR has been experiencing the same attendance issues that have been plaguing other major-league sports: the broadcast experience has gotten so good at home that many fans prefer to sit in front of 65-inch HD screens, listening to 5.1-channel surround sound and check fantasy-racing progress on an iPad while a refrigerator is full of supermarket-priced beer is steps away.
The payoff from the broadcast side has been enormous; recent agreements include the NBA’s nine-year, $24 billion media-rights deal with ESPN and Turner Sports; Fox’s deal to air Major League Baseball games is costing them $4 billion through the end of the 2021 season; NBC, CBS and Fox each pay the NFL about $1 billion a year for broadcast rights, while ESPN lays out $1.9 billion for a longer contract.
Despite continuous growth of TV audiences, attendance at NFL games reached an all-time high in 2007 and has consistently dropped ever since. MLB venue revenues turned flat around the same time. Major-league sports are battling to get and keep fans in the stands, with attendees turned off by rising ticket prices, traffic, parking costs and concessions prices.
The way that the leagues have fought back is with ever grander sports venues, lately incorporating in-venue Wi-Fi that offers replays and angles that home viewers can’t get.
“This project isn’t like other sports venues, simply because it’s larger than any of them put together. … This is going to be the model for tracks in the future. This is their showcase venue. We believe they see this as the first of many,” says Carlos Gonzalez, The Integration Factory
NASCAR is experiencing the same contradictory phenomenon, only perhaps more intensely. Even as the 2015 race season saw the first year of an agreement with FOX and NBC to pay a combined $8.2 billion to broadcast Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races for the next 10 years, attendance at the tracks was plunging. In the middle of the last decade, NASCAR stopped making attendance figures public; some tracks, including DIS, removed entire sections of seats to minimize the negative optics.
Daytona Rising is a similar response to what other major leagues have been experiencing, just on a scale larger than has ever been attempted before — and AV is a key component of the strategy.
“This project isn’t like other sports venues, simply because it’s larger than any of them put together,” says Gonzalez. The main difference between Daytona Rising and previous NASCAR venue designs was that older properties had little more than the grandstands for crowds. Here, the concourses form a larger social and commercial ecosystem surrounding the race event, and the extensive AV is intended to keep them engaged with the race no matter where they are in it, which further encourages merchandise and concession sales.
“No matter where in the concourses you are, you can always still see the race,” says Gonzalez. (As anyone who has been a NASCAR race knows, you could always hear it anywhere without amplification.) “This is going to be the model for tracks in the future. This is their showcase venue. We believe they see this as the first of many.”
Bigger Sound Injection
The concourse loudspeakers saturate the area with brute numbers. To achieve clarity in a very high-noise environment, they are all pointed downward; however, aiming them at the concrete floors also creates the potential for speech intelligibility issues from hard-surface reflections. Thus, the power to each individual speaker is attenuated, with sufficient coverage coming from the densely distributed layout.
Nonetheless, there is some nuance to the design. Like the video displays, they were attached to custom mounting brackets when they came out of the box on the ground. The brackets, fabricated by Premier Mounts, are designed to clamp the speaker assemblies onto the structure’s steel I-beams without requiring direct drilling into the steel.
That, explains Gonzalez, is an accommodation to Daytona’s relentless salt air, which would quickly turn any nick in the steel into rust. But the assemblies also have to be rated to withstand Florida’s chronic exposure to hurricane-force winds.
“All of the mounts, for speakers and video, are weatherized and galvanized,” he says.