The Systems Group Makes MSG’s GardenVision a Reality

As part of Madison Square Garden’s top-down transformation, the iconic venue tapped The Systems Group (TSG) to overhaul its GardenVision event control room. Located on the 11th floor, GardenVision delivers content to The Garden’s 3,400 sq. ft. of LED displays, including the center-hung videoboard and digital signage, and operates the venue’s IPTV system.

Unlike most sports venues, whose video-control rooms may double or even triple in size during renovation, The Garden’s control room presented a unique challenge: it would have to shrink. Previously, the room was accessible only via two very steep ship’s ladders; replacing one with an actual staircase would effectively split the room in half.

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GardenVision, integrated by The Systems Group, features gear from Sony, Harris Broadcast, Riedel, and more.

“There were very few ways in which that staircase could enter the room, and it ended up slicing the room in two in a very non-ideal location,” says TSG Project Engineer Tom Jasko. “It became a challenge to work around that, but it ended up working out nicely because that became the barrier between the equipment area and the operator consoles themselves.”

The control room features a Sony MVS8000x switcher; Harris Broadcast Platinum router and integrated multiviewer; Daktronics scoreboard-control system; graphics gear from Chyron, Click Effects, and SMT; Apple Final Cut Pro; Image Video tally system; and Riedel intercoms.

GardenVision also operates The Garden’s IPTV system, fibering feeds down to the Harris Broadcast Infocaster headend, which is located on Level 2. A Harris Broadcast-based master sync generator connects GardenVision with MSG Network, located across 7th Avenue in 11 Penn Plaza.

For replays, TSG installed a Harris Broadcast Nexio production playout center. Currently, GardenVision uses the replay server to feed the videoboard; however, plans to dedicate one of its five replay channels to an in-venue app are in the works.

“From a management standpoint, there’s much more to worry about now,” says Gerard Passaro, SVP, network operations and distribution, Madison Square Garden. “Five years ago, we worried about the game, the telecast, what was on the main scoreboard. Now we worry about IPTV, [digital] signage, all the different Daktronics components in the building. The level of staying on top of things is increasing.”

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Daktronics scoreboard-control systems send the program feed created by GardenVision out to the center-hung video board and various LED signage throughout the building.

In addition, The Garden added one Sony HDC2500 and two Sony ENG cameras to capture crowd shots throughout the game. The camera complements the isolated shots and network feed from the mobile-production unit, giving the GardenVision team plenty to work with when creating the in-game videoboard presentation.

“It really just depends. Do we want just the network feed? Do we want it without commercials, or the isolated cameras? We’ve really given ourselves a lot of different options,” says Mike Mitchell, VP/chief engineer, Madison Square Garden Co. “Some arenas like to cover the whole show themselves, and they don’t get the feed from the truck. We used to get just the truck; now we have the best of both.”

Working alongside project architect BBB, project manager JLL, and The Garden, TSG began the process of designing and integrating GardenVision earlier this year as part of the venue renovation’s Phase III. Jasko, alongside Project Manager Jose Morales, and Principal/VP, Engineering and Technology, Scott Griffin ensured that the room was ready for a company-wide meeting on Oct. 23 and the Knicks’ first preseason home game on Oct. 25.

“It’s a very architecturally limited space, a difficult space,” says Jasko. “[We] worked closely with BBB and JLL to come up with a floor plan that would not only work but also fit the requirements that MSG Media had for the space.”

Says Mitchell, “We’ve essentially made the building a living, breathing media machine.”