As host of the 2010 Winter Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada put itself on the world stage on a grand scale. The stadium has hosted over 26 million people since opening in 1983 and is home to the BC Lions Football Club. In preparation for the oncoming Olympic Games, the venue refurbished 52 private suites, a VIP suite, the team suite, and a lounge area with modern AV and amenities, including a ClearOne NetStreams IP audio distribution system powered by StreamNet® technology.
“ClearOne NetStreams IP audio distribution was a natural fit for BC Place,” says AV consultant Ian Wolfe, Vice President of Acoustical Design Group in Kansas City. Wolfe is a native of Vancouver and worked on the original sound system installation for BC Place back in the 1980’s. “The client liked that it is Ethernet-based technology so there was no need for rewiring the IT infrastructure. I liked that it is a complete solution from head end to the suites.”
The ClearOne NetStreams products provide several enhancements as compared to the previous outdated audio system, including the option for suite occupants to select a local or global source. Global sources include play-by-play commentary or a direct feed from the main sound system in the stadium; the local source is an input for iPods or other portable music devices. NetStreams engineers also worked with the venue to integrate their life safety system for emergency notifications. In the event of an emergency, the incoming audio signal automatically overrides any source in the suites so that occupants can hear emergency instructions.
In addition to the suites, Wolfe also designed a similar audio system upgrade to the Edgewater Lounge, which overlooks the playing surface at BC Place. The open, airy lounge has the added functionality of wireless microphone inputs for use during meetings or other gatherings. “With NetStreams, you can adapt the audio system as the venue evolves. The software based system can evolve with the client’s needs,” says Wolfe.
The system installation was handled by Western Pacific Enterprises G.P., one of the largest electrical and data contractors in British Columbia. Jan Petersen, data manager with the firm, says that his company was already handling the electrical upgrades to the suites when this opportunity came up for bid.
“This was right up our alley because NetStreams products are IP-based. We have a vast amount of data network experience so this installation was very straightforward,” says Petersen.
A decoder was installed in each suite to communicate with the 4-channel MediaLinX Pro MLA4000 encoder installed at the head end. Each amplifier requires a data line and power to the install site, both of which were already available. ClearOne NetStreams engineers assisted on the install by pre-deploying the system at their facility. “As a result, Western Pacific Enterprises and Acoustical Design Group were able to install and commission the system very easily,” says Petersen.
The suites in BC Place also feature the TL430 4.3” TouchLinX Touch Screen for control. The screens are personalized based on the corresponding event – either with the BC Lions team colors and logo, the colors of the suite location, or customized colors for other events. An Olympics logo and color scheme was used for the Winter Olympics. A TL430 installed at the head end is used to change all screens to the proper color schemes, as well as to turn off all units at the end of an event for security and energy conservation purposes.
The install, which was completed in May 2009, was a resounding success. The new audio system was tested constantly during the 2009-2010 football season, and was in proper working order for the 2010 Winter Olympics. “Once the install was complete, we never got a call back for repair or for defective units,” says Petersen.