21.02.17

Equipping Jordan’s stadiums for a FIFA World Cup

Fisheye lens shot of football pitch with seating at rear

When Jordan won the bid to host a FIFA World Cup tournament it quickly had to bring four of the country’s stadiums up to scratch to meet specific regulations for AV equipment. Anna Mitchell finds out more from INTE, the integrator tasked with the meeting the challenge.

When Jordan was selected to host the women’s under 17 FIFA World Cup it was tasked with bringing four of the country’s football stadiums up to speed to meet FIFA regulations. 

Stadiums selected for the tournament were the Amman International Stadium, King Abdullah II Stadium, Prince Hassan Stadium and Prince Mohammad Stadium. Tenders were put out to refit the PA systems in all four stadiums with Jordanian integrator INTE picking up the contracts for three facilities.

FIFA requires that dB levels are between 95-105dB and STI is above 0.55 and one of the first challenges was to convey the importance of the design of the PA systems to the clients. “The clients had no one on board who could judge the designs, who were specialised in similar systems or even had a minimal amount of experience,” explains Haitham Nazzal, project manager at INTE.

“At the first level of matches there were four games a day and at times in two different cities.”
INTE had to liaise with the Ministry of Youth and Sport for all stadiums apart from the King Abdullah II stadium, which was handled by the Municipality of Amman. 
Nazzal adds: “However, with lots of meetings and discussions we managed to explain the design and our suggestions for PA systems and used the acoustic simulations to show great numbers for dB and STI levels.”

But it was after the suggestions were accepted that the real challenge began for INTE. Work on all three stadiums had to be completed in about 25 days and finished in mid-June 2016. Distance was also a challenge. The 18,000 seat Amman International Stadium; the 14,000 seat King Abdullah II, also in Amman; and the 13,000 seat Prince Hassan Stadium in Irbed were as much as 100km apart.

“From the middle of Amman to Irbed it takes an hour and a half and can easily exceed two hours in traffic,” notes Nazzal. “That is three to four hours a day spent in the car. For that, we hired freelance employees who live nearby for stadiums outside Amman.”
Nazzal attributes much of the project’s success to INTE’s ability to find good local engineers who worked on a freelance basis for the integrator. 

All three stadiums were to have similar loudspeaker set ups with a slight difference in the number of cabinets deployed depending on the size of the stadium. The system was based on D.A.S. Audio HQ series loudspeakers: 23 were deployed in Amman International, 23 in King Abdullah II and 20 in Prince Hassan. 
Cloesup of loudspeaker mounted above seating
The units were powered by D.A.S. Audio D-Series amplifiers, with a range of D-10 and D-20 units used. Finally DSP was delivered by D.A.S. Audio DSP-2060As. 
Inputs came from OB vans and AKG wireless and wired headphones and INTE supplied Roland Mi-200 mixers.

The proposal had relied on hanging speakers on the top structure of the stadiums. Access was difficult and each cabinet weighed about 80kg and had to be suspended at an average of 25m high. 

“We created an iron basket that was hung on the steel structure for maintenance, while the whole installation process, including conduits and cables and hanging the speakers, was done using the mobile crane,” says Nazzal.

Large LED screens are used in each stadium and, whilst INTE were not responsible for installation, the company had to interface with the products as the audio system works with the same signal feed for breaks during the match.

The audio systems are used for announcements and music, to build match atmosphere. “They are really powerful speakers,” adds Nazzal. “We’ve used long and short throw cabinets and the long throw ones have the ability to deliver sound, at a very clear and good quality, to about 600 or 700 metres beyond the stadiums.”
When INTE answered the tender for PA systems, it also submitted a design for video distribution for cable TV (CATV) systems, which was initially rejected. 

“We assumed that the video system was taken by another contractor,” explains Nazzal. “Far into the project, we were surprised to find the subject had been ignored and the systems still needed to be installed. By mid-August I received an urgent phone call from the client asking for a meeting. FIFA had asked about video systems and there was no clear answer.”
Football pitch with blue seating in background
“By mid-August I received an urgent phone call from the client asking for a meeting. FIFA had asked about video systems and there was no clear answer.”
The design was finally accepted and approved with INTE contracted to deliver systems to the Amman International, Prince Hassan and Prince Mohammad stadiums. However, by this time INTE only had 23 days left before the beginning of the tournament and, in adding the Prince Mohammad Stadium to the installation, also now had work in a third city located about 90km from Amman in Zarqa.

INTE started work on preparing conduits and cabling before the equipment arrived on site. The video system was designed to take signals from OB vans and distribute them to 24 screens throughout the stadiums, including a number of outdoor locations (such as commentary box and media tribune) and indoor areas (including VIP lounges, game co-ordinator room and doping room). The system included encoding and modulation systems and decoders, located at each screen. 

A satellite system was considered but rejected and a local system was settled on. “The reason for this is time delay,” explains Nazzal. “If you use a satellite receiver system the time delay between a live game and what you watch on screen is 7 to 10 seconds, while in our system the delay between live and the screen is around 0.5-1 second which is acceptable. FIFA regulations stipulate a maximum of two seconds.”
Loudspeakers at the Al Hassan stadium
Nazzal worked with a Chinese manufacturer called Colable to deliver encoders and modulators – packaged into one unit dubbed an Encodulator. Colable also sourced and supplied TV boxes, cables and accessories to deliver the complete CATV system.
When the tournament began INTE continued to offer technical support for each match. 
“At the first level of matches there were four games a day and at times in two different cities,” says Nazzal. “There was a media trained department that communicates between the stadium management and FIFA. They were responsible for operation of systems, especially the PA so it works with the game co-ordinator who manages the music and the announcements.”

Now INTE is involved with the training of staff to operate the systems in the stadiums moving forward. “The PA system is very simple,” Nazzal continues. “It has a DSP so the signal is processed already. Usually all you need to do is supply a flat signal and the system does the rest. There is no acoustic manipulation needed.”

Nazzal pinpoints the specific challenge on the project as the race against time. While the PA installation was carried out under time pressure, it was the video systems that were the most remarkable achievement. It was a huge triumph to have a working system installed on time for this project. 

Tech-Spec
Audio

AKG WMS 470 wireless and D7 wired microphones
D.A.S. Audio HQ-series loudspeakers, D-series amplifiers and DSPs
Roland Mi-200 mixers
 
Video
Colable Encoder-Modulators