How AV is evolving the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
An integrated AV system has helped transform the Tottenham Hotspur Football Stadium from a conventional football ground into an experience defining powerhouse. Reece Webb reports.
The Tottenham Hotspur Football Stadium in London is a first in many ways; for the sports fans among us, the new stadium is not only an impressive football stadium, but also doubles as the first NFL stadium outside of the US and Europe’s first stadium with a sliding grass pitch, splitting the pitch into three sections to create a seamless surface, retracting to allow events to be played on an artificial surface stored beneath the grass pitch.
For beer lovers, the stadium also features the single longest bar in Europe and for the integrators among us, there are some even more impressive firsts to be found.
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium opened 3rd April 2019, built on the same ground as Tottenham Hotspur’s 118 year old White Hart Lane stadium which was demolished in 2017.
The new stadium has a capacity of 62,062 seats, making it the largest club stadium in London, with a roof circumference of approximately 720 metres.
This marks a significant departure in capacity and size from Tottenham’s previous stadium, but change has come in more ways than just aesthetics.
Technology, especially AV systems, are at the very heart of the design of the new stadium.
Sanjeev Katwa, head of technology for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club said “We’ve incorporated technology into the design of the building. Our technology’s been focused around the network. The network’s been the core of our entire technology journey here; because the network is integrated AV, it allows us to move very quickly with new solutions.
He adds “We set out with a vision and the vision changes because technology has changed as well, some of our product choices changed as this project evolved.
“On the AV side, it’s been a five to six year journey. The difference between this venue on AV compared to any other venue is that we have an integrated, IP based solution. ”
In the bowl of the stadium, four bespoke Daktronics LED video displays were installed with a total length of over 1,000 square metres and over 10 metres in width.
An additional two Daktronics screens were installed in the south stand, measuring 325 square metres each, making them the largest stadium screens in Western Europe.
Pitch side, TGI installed a 10 x 12 pixel pitch, enhanced black face SMD digital signage system, totalling 354 meters in length.
There are also around 1,800 LG HDTV’s installed throughout the stadium in varying sizes, from 29-in screens to 98-in ultra-stretch screens, all based on an IP network.
An extensive Harman audio system was also installed at the stadium.
Harman, as the official audio supplier for the venue, supplied around 4,500 JBL loudspeakers as well as 153 Dante enabled amplifiers mixed between eight channels and four channels.
Ryan Penny, senior business development Manager for Harman explains “In the media café, we have Control 60 pendant speakers, Control 25’s, AC series, AE series in different spaces and different sizes, depending on how tall the ceiling is.
He said “In the bowl, it’s the VLA compact line array system which is a stadium or arena specific installation grade array based on the driver technology that’s come from our tour grade boxes, the VTX series. They’re complimented by C125 subwoofers in a cardioid array, so there’s low frequency enhancement in the bowl.”
Tottenham Hotspur were once again the first in Europe to install the VLA compact line array system, deciding to use the JBL speakers before their official launch of the product.
The multi-purpose venue not only serves traditional English football needs but also the growing demand for NFL outside of the US, with the AV technology used in the stadium evolving to meet the show-like standards of NFL games.
Katwa elaborates “We’ve worked very closely with the NFL and our partners have worked with them, too.
“NFL is a show, that’s why we’ve got that sense of infrastructure, this is why we can create that NFL experience with in-house expertise. A lot of these requirements involve sound, light and vision.”
Penny believes there is a connection between higher quality AV technology in stadiums and the demand for NFL in Europe.
He said “I think the design standard is going up in terms of initially delivering good bowl audio. There’s been a massive change from 10 years ago in what fans expect, just based on their own personal expectations of what sound is like and that’s good for us as a manufacturer of audio equipment.
“They want better quality sound, much more in line with American standards in NFL but there is still a need to maintain the authenticity of football in the UK especially. There’s an atmosphere to that and having to marry good acoustics for sound and good acoustics for atmosphere and fan experience.”
Looking to the future, it’s clear that the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will adopt a fluid approach to the technology that is incorporated at the ground.
Katwa clarifies “Because the technology backbone in the infrastructure is resilient, robust and scalable to new technologies, we will always try to change and add new things. We’re not going to stand still, we’re always going to change and we’ve got some great infrastructure here to do some good things.