NEW YORK, NY, November 19, 2009 — Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets, is being hailed as one of the nation’s premier ballparks. But designing a sound system for the stadium, which holds 42,000 fans, was no easy feat, especially considering its unique challenges.
The space had been called one of the worst RF nightmares in the country. “If ever there was a recipe for wireless disaster, we seemed to have all the ingredients,” said senior field engineer David Potts of TSI Global, the firm charged with implementing the system. “We’re within 2 ½ miles of LaGuardia Airport,” Potts pointed out, citing the potential RF interference. “As if that’s not bad enough, we’re only 7 ½ direct, line-of-sight miles from the Empire State Building and all of the DTV transmissions emanating from its rooftop.”
A team from Dallas-based WJHW set out to design the new audio system, with the goal of delivering smooth, even coverage across every nook-and-cranny of the stadium, from the service areas through the press box, out onto the field, into the grandstands, then back to the most far-flung concourses. The design team turned to Shure to make it happen. They chose 24 channels of Shure wireless. Dual-channel UR4D receivers serve as the backbone of the wireless plan, with an assortment of UR2 handheld and UR1 bodypack transmitters. Outfitted with an automatic IR sync feature, the handheld transmitters can be put to work with interchangeable Shure SM58®, SM86, SM87A, Beta 58A®, Beta 87A, Beta 87C, and KSM9 capsules.
The wireless schematic uses frequency coordination supplied from Shure’s Niles, Illinois, headquarters. When TSI Global engineers began installation, they followed Shure’s frequency coordination plot to the letter. Employing a selection of handheld transmitters outfitted with a number of different capsules from the Shure catalog, the system relies upon directional UA870 UHF paddle antennas to link microphone users with the UHF-R® receivers. Very few adjustments had to be made to the frequency selections Shure suggested, even after the FCC-mandated DTV transition on June 12.
“We went into this like any project,” said Potts, “with the belief that it’s our job to make the system perform for the client exactly the way the designer envisioned it would. In this environment, a lot of demands are being made on the wireless system. Shure helped us meet those demands in a simple, straightforward, and reliable fashion. There were no issues reported whatsoever throughout the season, and trust me, I would have heard about them if there were.”
As a result of the versatility designed into the WJHW system, audio now knows no barriers at Citi Field. The Shure wireless system enables fans in every corner of the stadium to hear each crack of the bat, and, with the help of the ballpark’s big screen displays, even listen in on and watch interviews being conducted in the locker room.
TSI Global is now slated to manage installation projects for other pro sports teams, including baseball’s Minnesota Twins and hockey’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Based on the success of the Citi Field system, the TSI team will again use Shure wireless systems to ensure top-notch sound in both spaces.