UW’s Camp Randall Stadium Gets New A/V in a Single, Very Big Box

Camp Randall Stadium, home to the University of Wisconsin Badgers football team in Madison, got an A/V redesign for this season. In the process, the project underscores how a turnkey approach to A/V-systems integration is becoming a trend in the industry.

The new north-end videoboard measures 101 ft. wide and 42 ft. tall, more than double the size of the previous 43-ft.-wide x 23-ft.-tall display. At 2,352 pixels wide by 980 pixels tall, the display projects images across a total of 2,304,960 pixels.

The audio system, which flanks the videoboard, comprises 478 individual speaker drivers covering the entire bowl seating area via four JBL VLA line arrays. Specifically, there are 18 JBL VLA301H loudspeakers, 14 JBL VLA 601H loudspeakers, three JBL PD743 loudspeakers, two JBL PD5212 loudspeakers, 12 AWC82 loudspeakers, and 21 AW295 loudspeakers. Four line arrays cover west, south, and east seating areas, with many fill speakers covering the north-seat and upper-seat fills. Complementing this are four Danley TH-812 subwoofers backed with 128,000 W of power. The entire system deploys 93 QSC amplifiers with a combined output of 447,400 W, controlled by QSC Q-SYS DSP.

Both systems do a good job of covering the 80,321-seat venue — the 41st-largest stadium in the world — and were installed by the same A/V integrator, Daktronics. According to company audio sales representative John Olsen, the fact that a single entity was able to provide both systems gave the university a more cost-effective and operationally efficient solution. Daktronics historically has been known for its large-scale video and scoreboard systems but has been asserting its integrated A/V services since acquiring former audio-systems subcontractor Dodge Electronics in 2005 and the manufacturer of Vortek hoists and rigging systems a year later.

“From the client’s point of view,” says Olsen, “they have a single entity that they can deal with from beginning to end.”

Tackling Low Frequencies
He says Daktronics’ comprehensive approach was of particular use at Camp Randall Stadium, whose size creates a lot of volume to fill and at the same time presents a lot of large reflective surfaces, some big enough to make lower frequencies a reflective problem. The response, he says, was a taller sound system.

“The taller the line array, the more control we have over the pattern of the lowest frequencies,” he explains. With the high-powered subwoofers, he estimates, the system is capable of reliably steering sound down to 90 Hz.

As big as the stadium is, it also has hard-to-reach areas for sound. “The design of the stadium presented many challenges, including a very deep under-balcony area that was shadowed from the main display,” says Daktronics Project Engineer David Sturzenbecher. “This area required a completely separate submix in order to blend properly with the main system.”

An integrated approach to stadium A/V makes a big difference for sports venues, Olsen says. “Typically, we design systems integrated with the scoreboard, which we do not take lightly. The challenge is to provide a system that fits in a confined and defined space, with little room for errors of any kind. Unlike a touring rig on a flown truss that can be adjusted as needed, once one of our large systems is installed, we have to be very confident that everything will fit properly into the structure and only require minimal adjustment and perform as designed. Combining structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering at the design stage is critical. Even determining how a system will get installed in a structure can be a challenge, since we may need to install with large fixed cranes through very limited openings.”

Daktronics’ turnkey design/build approach for stadium A/V is being mirrored in other consolidations throughout the industry, including on the manufacturing side with Harman’s purchase of Martin Lighting, which enables Harman to offer audio and lighting systems for sports venues. As the industry enters an era of widespread A/V-system upgrades across the venue infrastructure, turnkey approaches are one way of keeping costs in line.