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Solutions: IP-based system provides flexibility for new ice hockey arena

An IP-based infrastructure was the only choice for this newly built ice hockey arena, which required the services of two integrators.

Situated in the Montreal suburb of Laval, Place Bell’s 10,000-seat main arena is the home of the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket. Opened in 2017, the facility also houses a 2,500-seat rink with Olympic-size ice for professional figure skating and speed skating and a 500-seat rink for local ice hockey teams. The main arena also hosts concerts and other entertainment events.

The venue has been built from the ground up with an IP-centric infrastructure, which carries all the live audio, video, broadcasting and lighting in the venue. Mike Poirier, director of business development at Solotech, which handled integration of the arena’s video systems, LED screens, lighting and intercoms, comments: “Facilities have slowly but surely moved to a networked world; it’s a reality now,” he says. “So AV-centric switches, like those from Luminex, made a lot of sense for Place Bell.”

“IP-based systems are no longer a choice: They are the way to go,” agrees Benjamin Wahiche, technical director at TKNL, which was responsible for integrating all the audio and the closed circuit video at Place Bell. “If you want to deliver the flexibility that customers expect, IP-based systems are the solution. Place Bell is the biggest IP-based system we have ever deployed, and one of the largest Luminex networks in the world.”

Fibre backbone
The network’s backbone is a mix of ring and mesh topology of single-mode fibre with a failover path for fast recovery. Complete filtering of all the multicast traffic generated by all the protocols is also featured.

System redundancy is key, according to Luc Gelinas, partner and technical services director at project consultant Trizart Alliance. “We need to maintain a primary network and secondary network with a redundant power supply between the two. That’s where Luminex also has an edge.”

The audio system integrated by TKNL at Place Bell is comprised of 41 Luminex GigaCore 16Xt PoE ruggedised AV switches with front displays all equipped with RPSU redundant power supplies each supporting two GigaCore 16Xt main PSU and PoE PSU. Two GigaCore 26i PoE AV network switches complement the system.

QSC’s Q-SYS Core audio processors, I/O frames and tactile control and paging stations ensure audio distribution throughout the building. Two isolated groups/segments provide support to QSC Q-LAN primary and Q-LAN secondary network protocol. QSC network amplifiers and additional touchpanels and paging stations provide audio in the concourse.

The main ice loudspeaker system consists of a NEXO loudspeaker and amplifier network, which provides coverage throughout the ice rink. Also on the network are control of the audio mixing system, monitoring, the instant replay system, and wireless microphones.

“The secondary audio system has speakers in the concourse, hallways and in the dressing rooms – all on the same network, all communicating with each other and all supported on a Luminex backbone,” says Wahiche. “The large number of Luminex switches gives us hardware redundancy; we have two rings of switches on a redundant base.”

Place Bell’s IPTV network broadcasts advertising, a cable TV feed and promotional content within the facility. The network is comprised of 23 Luminex GigaCore 26i PoE AV Network switches, each with a 3Gb aggregated link that provides increased bandwidth and redundancy to three main core switches.

The system was designed to support up to 24 video sources, including cable TV feeds, local SDI feeds and a Navori player for digital signage and dynamic content, on a complete AMX SVSI system. Destination points number in the hundreds: 24 SVSI 2000 series encoders are currently used going to more than 180 destinations. Fifty Crestron touchpanels provide in-room control.

Solotech integrated the lighting system, consisting of a Luminex GigaCore 14R PoE ruggedised AV switch and a GigaCore 26i PoE AV Network switch. An ETC ION 1000 console is networked with ETC Net 3 and sACN protocols to sensors, relays and Luminex DMX nodes.

GigaCore products also support all the LED panels, for which Solotech was responsible. They include the Chainzone Imposa trivision (three-sided) scoreboard on the public plaza; the main arena’s four-sided Imposa scoreboard with a power ring below it; and Imposa LED panels over each exit and the team entry doors.

Control room
Solotech also integrated the full HD-compliant control room, for the broadband capture and distribution of events at Place Bell. It features seven cameras, a Grass Valley Korona production switcher, AJA audio and video processor and Ross sync, test and reference generator running on a network consisting of four Luminex GigaCore 26i switches and two GigaCore 16Xt.
The complex communications system for the production crew and officials in the penalty box uses a Riedel Tango AES67 intercom system and Smart Panel. “The system is extremely important since Place Bell does live events,” notes Poirier. “It is linked to the Luminex switches too.”

Gelinas notes that Place Bell’s IP-centric infrastructure will serve the arena well now and into the future. “With everything running over IP the challenge is always interoperability with different kinds of equipment. But Luminex is able to handle all the major protocols involved in AV with ease and without requiring the end-user to have a deep knowledge of programming switches,” he says.