University of Phoenix Stadium will be wearing its Sunday best when the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks square off for Super Bowl XLIX this weekend, with many technology and security improvements highlighting the building where one team will end the night as NFL champion.
Many of the upgrades (including 200 extra HD cameras, black hawk helicopters and X-rays) won’t be readily noticeable to fans, and that’s sort of the point. But some of the $18 million in improvements to the nine-year-old home of the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale are intended to make fans’ jaws drop and their eyes get a little bigger.
That starts with HD video boards at each end of the stadium that are three times larger than their predecessors, including a 54-foot-by-164-foot board in the south end zone that spans the width of the field and a 27-foot-by-97-foot board in the north end zone.
To make the most of those video boards and their new capabilities, Pro Sound & Video of Miami continued its long-standing relationship with the Cardinals by installing 13 Sony cameras around the stadium that can capture action on the field and in the stands.
All told, University of Phoenix Stadium is equipped with 38 IT closets to support the Cisco Wi-Fi system. That system has the capability of allowing all 63,000 fans to access the network at the same time if they’d like to do so.
Pro Sound, a PSNI affiliate whose work with the Cardinals started in 2003 when the team was building University of Phoenix Stadium, also installed an Evertz EQX switch that features four so-called “dream catchers,” cameras that allow for freeze-frames, replays and zooms on important plays or in-stadium shenanigans.
Pro Sound’s work during nine weeks last off-season also included installing one of the first Ross Acuity switchers and a DigiCo SD10 audio mixing console in a brand-new production suite that gives the Cardinals, or the NFL, the capability for to broadcast in the stadium in 4K.
“(The Cardinals) have a very forward-thinking, progressive production crew,” says Rod Sintow, CEO of Pro Sound. “They’ve shown the owner they can turn technology into a profit center. The Super Bowl didn’t drive the control room upgrades.”
Pro Sound’s team worked 70 to 80 hours a week starting in June to complete their portion of the work, says senior VP David Shoemaker. “The Cardinals are very aggressive with how they deal with technology,” he says. “The owner wants to be on the cutting edge.” That makes for a good relationship with a systems integrator, of course.
Pro Sound was part of weekly conference calls with the Cardinals tech team for about eight months leading up to the start of the latest upgrades, says Shoemaker. That helped things to go more smoothly when it was time to hurry up and get the job done.
“The short window of time definitely made it more challenging,” says Shoemaker. “Getting the equipment fast enough was a problem at times—it takes time to produce high-level stuff—but we were able to make it work and get things done by doing a lot of prewiring.”
The good news is, prior to ordering and installing the equipment, the Cardinals technical team “had time to research what they were getting,” says Shoemaker.
Pro Sound and the Cardinals are already talking about what they can do to make the fan experience even better for the next NFL season, says Shoemaker.
“It’s a great marriage between an integrator and a client,” he says.