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Boston Sports Now a Glass Act

SMPTE fiber is fast becoming a necessity at stadiums and sporting venues across the country and in the coming years, and we expect the need to grow as more and more broadcasters move to high-definition telecasts.

Most camera manufacturers, including Sony, say that their high-definition cameras require a fiber connection from the camera head to the CCU to bring out the best in picture quality. With that in mind, Sony decided to provide SMPTE fiber in one fan-centric sports town: Boston.

The choices for sports arenas were Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in the country and home of the Red Sox, and the Fleet Center, home to the Bruins and Celtics. Sony approached Venue Services Group (VSG) to accomplish this rewiring project.

Sony Broadcast decided to use Mohawk/CDT's new three-circuit SMPTE fiber, which has three separate SMPTE camera cables bundled within one shielded jacket. It is available in riser-rated and plenum-rated versions, and allows for the installation of three camera circuits at each junction box location.

The cost of the cable is less than three single SMPTE fibers and there is an additional cost savings in pulling one cable for three circuits instead of three individual cables.

As a project manager for VSG, I had just finished the broadcast cabling for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. VSG had been contracted to extend and relocate the broadcast cables from their old location within Fenway to the new television truck compound.

I was charged with coordinating the move between the Red Sox management team, local affiliates and the common carriers. As a natural transition, I began working with Sony and Mohawk to facilitate the fibering of Fenway.

SEVEN LOCATIONS

Working with the local broadcaster, we decided that seven primary camera locations would be necessary for the fiber install at Fenway Park. Each location could support up to three cameras.

Sony also decided to experiment with different types of connectors, so we installed two conventional Lemo connector pigtails and one Stratos connector in each location. The use of the Lemo pigtails allowed for easy installation on site, requiring only the termination of SC connectors for the fiber and Amphenol connectors for the copper portion.

For the 2004 season, we returned to Fenway to fiber three new camera positions for the New England Sports Network (NESN), once again employing the Lemo connector that has now become the Fenway standard. NESN has been using a National Mobile Television HD truck since the last half of the Red Sox 2003 season.

Sony was so pleased with the work done at Fenway that it decided to tap VSG to fiber 14 camera positions at the Fleet Center, home to the Bruins and Celtics. This work was crucial, as NESN and Fox Sports Net New England were scheduled to broadcast all the home games of the Bruins and Celtics in HD, and the networks required an infrastructure similar to that of Fenway Park. By using a combination of single- and triple-strand fiber, Lemo connectors and a newly developed Mohawk/CDT plenum-rated cable, the Fleet Center was fibered and ready in record time for the opening games of both the NHL and NBA seasons.

Doing the right thing on a project and controlling costs requires a balance that we strive to maintain, as it helps build our relationships with clients and develop successful partnerships with our vendors. Using Mohawk cable was a prime example of this.

Working alongside people from Mohawk and the various venues, I felt the line blur between client and vendor. The right relationship among a system integrator, vendor and client can help high-profile sports venues such as the Fleet Center and Fenway Park move into the high-definition future.

For more information, contact Mohawk Cable at 978-537-9961 or visit www.mohawk-cdt.com.