Over 200 CTs Series amplifiers installed in the nest of MLB's St. Louis Cardinals
ST. LOUIS, Missouri - April 2007 -- In October 2006, St. Louis' new Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals, went on record as one of very few ballparks whose baseball team won the World Series in the facility's inaugural season.
Construction for the new $365 million, 44,000-seat Busch Stadium, the third such home for the franchise, began back in January 2004. Dallas-based design and consulting firm Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW) was charged with the audio system design portion of the project; however, this was not the company's first experience working for the Cardinals. In the late-'80s, WJHW had been called to the second Busch Stadium to make some upgrades to the ballpark's existing sound system, which, at that time, included the installation of various Crown power amplifiers.
For the new stadium, WJHW again made the decision to specify Crown, this time opting for CTs Series amplifiers equipped with PIP-Lite network control modules. "On this go-round, the nature of the system was certainly far more robust," says WJHW Principal Ron Baker. "One of the things that we do as a matter of course on any of these major sports projects is to use amps that are capable of being networked, operated and monitored from a central control point because there are so many channels involved that an operator needs some sort of computer assistance just to be able to maintain an idea of what's working and what's not. We have certainly exploited the Crown control features on this particular project."
There are an impressive 211 CTs amplifiers in the new Busch Stadium system, located predominately in two main equipment rooms at the first and third base lines, with an Ethernet network used to communicate those two primary locations to the main audio control room in the press box area. According to Baker, "The nature of this particular seating design is very intimate with speakers located directly over patrons' heads in many places and required quite a few individual loudspeakers in order to cover the space. More loudspeakers obviously meant more amps. The intimate spaces required that many short-throw nearfield boxes be spaced fairly tightly around the stadium. Therefore, one of the challenges was trying to manage the number of speakers and amplifier channels necessary to run all of these small zones."
SPL Integrated Solutions was the contractor working with WJHW on this project, and, having installed numerous Crown products in the past, the company was very comfortable with the systems integration process. Justo Gutierrez, SPL Senior Project Engineer notes, "We have very successfully used the CTs line in three or four stadiums, so it basically just came down to figuring out what the owner and consultant wanted and tailoring the amp and control system to their needs."
Baker echoes those sentiments, "We've used the CTs product on quite a few projects now and it seems to be very well received by the contracting community. One of the conveniences is the fact that they are all the same basic size in two-channel models so it's a little easier to plan rack layouts and anticipate rack space requirements. The fact that the same model can operate either in low impedance mode or as a 70-volt amp is also very handy as the contractor can flip a switch and convert its output between the two configurations."
Busch Stadium's system signal chain starts with various playback sources as well as a Crown CM-311A headset microphone. After the mixer and basic system limiting, the audio goes to a BSS Soundweb London BLU-80, which does the system processing as well as the audio distribution via CobraNet(tm). The signal from the BLU-32 output expanders feed the CTs amplifiers with PIP-Lite modules providing individual level control for almost every speaker. In addition, there are CTs amplifiers with PIPLites in the back-of-house systems, including the club and lounges. These sub-systems contain BSS BLUs as well as dbx Zone Pros and JBL Control Contractor Series speakers.
The BSS and Crown systems coexist on the same network backbone; however, the control systems are running on two separate computers to allow the operator to monitor both simultaneously. The customized Crown IQwic control interface allows for the monitoring of each of the systems in logical groups, such as bleachers or first base boxes. The custom panels sped up commissioning, while the ability to create control groups allowed easy control of many discrete amplifier channels. The PIP-Lite modules permit real-time control and monitoring, including signal levels, load impedance, output limiting, and even monitoring of the AC voltage.
Considering the large-scale scope of this project, senior engineers from Crown and other Harman Pro Group companies spent quite a bit of time on-site to ensure smooth integration. SPL's Gutierrez notes that Crown Business Development Manager Bradford Benn was a definite asset on the project, "He put in a lot of his own time and effort to help integrate the system. His work with the consultant and us was invaluable; a lot of times you don't get that kind of support from a manufacturer. Brad and I had started working six to eight months ahead of the opening for this project and he stayed well into the summer to bring it all to conclusion. I was really happy with the way the system came out as far as the amplifier control and it was the commitment by Crown to follow the project all the way through that made the difference."
Baker had this to say about his Harman support experience, "To both Crown and BSS' credit, they certainly came through and lived up to the commitment they had made regarding providing on-site technical support for the whole process of doing system checkout, setup, optimization and so forth."
The first major league game in the new ballpark was on April 10, 2006 with the Cardinals defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 6 to 4. The Cardinals went on to win the 2006 World Series in the new stadium's first year, and, if you ask anyone from WJHW, SPL or a Harman Pro company, they'll tell you that it's because of the great sound system.
On the horizon for Busch Stadium, a commercial area called Ballpark Village is being developed adjacently, which will include both commercial and residential space, an aquarium, and the new St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame. Most recently, Busch Stadium has been chosen by MLB to host the 2009 All-Star Game.
For more information on WJHW, visit www.wjhw.com. SPL Integrated Solutions can be found on the Web at www.splis.com.
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