Mark Hallinger /
08.27.2012 12:16 PM
London Calling: Tonnage & Technology

Every venue required a different communications design.


Sports Technology Ltd (ST) is a company formed to deliver services at large sporting events. Headed by Damian Rowe as MD — who has worked at seven Games dating back to Sydney — the company won the contract to provide audio and wired communication services at all the venues in London and across Great Britain.

ST’s audio subcontractors for London included Dimension Audio, The P.A. People, Brit Row, MCL and Delta Sound. These subcontractors normally compete for projects, but when the RFP includes 380 sound systems spread across the country it’s too big a job for any one company.

All of the entities that provided Clear-Com products were already linked by one thing: They are all part of the Clear-Com Global Rental Group, managed by Laurence Estrin.

Mark Bonner, MD of Delta Sound, the company that handled the installation of the talkback part of ST’s remit at all 42 venues, said that his biggest concern a year before the Games was simply the quantity of kit that would be needed. He said populating 42 venues with matrices, beltpacks, panels and other equipment was at least 10 times a normal job.

By way of example, he said Delta Sound had used three of Clear-Com’s Eclipse Matrix systems while working the Queen’s Jubilee celebration earlier this year. That’s the number of spares — never used — on hand at the London Games. So 45 Eclipses were spread across Great Britain in July and August.

Australia-based The P.A. People — a veteran of world-class sporting events dating back to Sydney — provided much of the hardware for the venue comms, matrix systems and two-way radio packages for many of the 42 venues.

“We were fundamentally a hardware systems supplier in London,” said Chris Dodds, MD of The P.A. People. He said that equipment selection, which included Clear-Com Eclipse Matrix with V-Series Panels and HelixNets, was based on what had proven itself in big event communications over the last 12 years, with all products selected on merit and reliability.

AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE

“When the bidding was taking place and we were talking about the project, its magnitude wasn’t a reality until we actually started to do it,” said Bonner. Delta, a HelixNet beta site and Eclipse customer with roughly US$1 million in equipment at the start of the process, added an additional US$500,000 in communications equipment for this job.
Stadium comms control room.

ST received a basic design to work from less than one year before the Games. From here, they sat down with the governing body of each sport that was at that venue to refine the design.

“Each sport is slightly different,” said Bonner. “We have a basic design with common principles from venue-to-venue — Clear-Com matrices for example — and from there we determine the number and location of the panels, the number of headsets and so on.”

The nature of big event productions is a bidding, planning and prep phase that lasts a few years, followed by an intense few weeks of “delivery,” followed by a rather rapid tear down. What remains is an expanded equipment infrastructure for many contractors and, more importantly, the experience.

Add in a vendor with well-received gear and the knowledge of what these events require, and the ability of an organization like ST to bring it all together, and what remains is a beautiful coalition ready to take on the next big production.

“The organizers could see the synergy between a great equipment vendor, the local expertise of Sports Technology and the Games time capability and experience of The P.A. People and other partners,” said Dodds “It was a natural fit to join forces to deliver the venues communications systems.”


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