FIFA Ready: Ekaterinburg Arena
Anna Mitchell takes a look at InAVation Award runner up for leisure and entertainment - a wide-ranging stadium installation that saw Croc shortlisted for the 2019 InAVation Awards.
Russian integrator Croc was shortlisted for the 2019 InAVation Award for Leisure and Entertainment for its work at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The AV integrator overhauled AV and engineering infrastructure at the facility as part of renovations ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and impressed judges with the vast scope of works it undertook and the high standards it had to meet.
Located in the Ural regions, Ekaterinburg Arena was the most easterly of all the 2018 World Cup stadiums and was one of 12 chosen to host matches across 11 cities. It was originally built in 1957 and has acted as a venue for thousands of sports and entertainment events. It has hosted major speed skating events ever since it welcomed the World Allround Speed Skating Championships for Women in 1959.
With four 2018 World Cup group stage matches held at the sports venue - also known as Central Stadium of Yekaterinburg - Croc’s work had to fully comply with strict FIFA requirements who visited throughout the build process to ensure the standards were being met. Integration was tricky as Croc had to work during wider renovation of the stadium and had to fit in with other contractors working on building construction.
Croc designed and deployed more than 20 low current systems including ticket and pass card based access control, physical security, telecoms, broadcasting, multimedia and engineering system monitoring.
Displays and IPTV
Multimedia screens were deployed around the arena to keep fans up to speed with matches wherever they are. The displays cover the external perimeter, in the bowl, the areas under the stands, the press centre, mass media zone and unified stadium control centre.
Where the digital signage network extends to outside the stadium, match details can be viewed on two double-sided multimedia screens each measuring 7m x 4m. These displays were used during the World Cup to show statistics about the tournament, team line ups and interesting facts. Inside, two 18m x 9m displays provide an immersive experience for spectators.
Kinglight LED was chosen for the in bowl and perimeter displays. LED modules were housed in aluminium, waterproof housing.
Croc also mounted approximately 250 screens around the facility, fed by an IPTV system, so spectators weren’t just limited to watching a match from the stand. Video feeds from matches as well as advertising and information is broadcast to VIP lounges, gift shops and food courts. Many displays are in vandal- and weatherproof housing.
Samsung LCD panels were chosen with 90 units of 32-in displays, 57 units of 43-in displays and 39 units of 55-in displays. An additional 55 units of 43-in displays with heat insulating enclosures were installed. Forty-four of the other displays were also enclosed in heat-insulating housing. A further 331 19-in Samsung LCD panels were used at the arena.
High density Wi-Fi covers the entire stadium bowl and adjacent area, so supporters can share photos and videos via social media during matches. The integrator delivered 90 access points in the bowl and 270 access points around the stadium.
Croc had to overcome technical challenges to achieve this as it was difficult to provide a reliable signal in the bowl structure. To access Wi-Fi, spectators are directed to a Rostelecom portal that covers all the stadiums, and can gain authentication via SMS and Fan ID.
The integrator also supplied an intelligent sound amplification system that allows for maximum audibility anywhere in the stands, promptly suppresses external noise, eliminates echo effect and automatically increases or decreases the volume of primary sound within the stadium.
Outline audio systems were selected. One-hundred-and-twenty-one all weather loudspeakers and 45 amplifiers were deployed for the stadium bowl. In the VIP areas 54 loudspeakers with woofers were deployed and powered by two amplifiers. Shure MicroFlex microphones were delivered for the equipment room.
In accordance with FIFA guidelines, the system is designed to provide sound pressure of 116.9 dB, which is sufficient to be heard above noisy football crowds. Croc also had to make sure the sound system could withstand severe weather conditions experienced in Yekaterinburg, which can plummet to -40-degrees Celsius in winter. To do this they devised a way to warm the loudspeaker system.
Personal receivers integrated with the intelligent sound amplification system were provided and, upon request, are given to people with hearing loss. A Sennheiser audio guide system was selected for this purpose.
A press centre was delivered for pre- and post-match events. It features a multimedia suite including videoconferencing, simultaneous interpretation, sound amplification, congress systems and Wi-Fi. Visuals are shown on a 2m x 2m videowall and projection system. Following a visit from FIFA officials Croc had to implement changes to the press area to ensure the equipment was able to be made mobile.
In a main conference hall two Epson EB-G7900U 4K projectors fire on to two 240 cm x 135 cm AV Stumpfl Inline-Motor Strato projection screens. This is complemented by four 65-in Samsung ED65E panels and two Samsung 43-in LCD panels.
Polycom videoconferencing is also provided with a RealPresence Group 500 selected by Croc. It includes an EagleEye camera and RealPresence microphone array. A Bosch DCN congress system comprising six discussion units was deployed.
Ten 21.5-in Samsung monitors, eight Bosch DCN interpreter units with gooseneck microphones and headsets were provided for interpreters.
In addition to the press centre, Croc kitted out the press stand. Reporters are provided with personal screens to watch the match in HD.
Furthermore, the integrator implemented a ticket and pass card based security access control system and anti-terrorist systems to ensure safety and security for spectators, players and stadium staff. In the event of a problem, programmes that monitor engineering systems and structures transmit current stadium data to 24/7 dispatch control services, so emergencies can be responded to rapidly.
Over in the unified control centre, information from 1,500 cameras, multimedia equipment, the pass card-based access control and IT systems is delivered in real time. Here, staff monitor site operation and can make rapid decisions in case of emergencies.
The design of the unified control centre had to take into account requests from law enforcement teams including the Federal Security Service (FSB), Federal Guard Service (FSO) and Ministry of Internal Affairs. One request saw Croc have to reconfigure the unified control centre to deliver a dedicated communication room for security services.
After delivering the systems Croc remained on site to train the stadium staff and after the World Cup were called on to return again. In 2019 Ekaterinburg Arena dismantled temporary stands, which had welcomed 35,000 spectators during the World Cup. This meant that Croc had to return to reconfigure Wi-Fi and sound amplification systems. Much of the LED products deployed for the World Cup were reused for advertising and to provide the stadium with additional revenue.
Now offering a capacity of 23,000, Ekaterinburg Arena continues as the home of Russian Premier League football club FC Ural Yekaterinburg and is used for sports and other public events, such as concerts, with sound and lighting equipment offering flexibility to run in multiple different modes.
AV Stumpfl Inline-Motor Strato projection screens
Epson EB-G7900U 4K projectors
Hikvision IP cameras and network video recorder
Kinglight LED displays
Polycom RealPresence Group 500 videoconferencing system
Samsung 19-in, 21.5-in, 32-in, 43-in, 55-in and 65-in LCD panels
Bosch DCN discussion and interpreter units
Genelec audio monitors
Sennheiser audio guide
Shure MicroFlex microphone system
Outline audio systems