Belden cabling

Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, is a prime example of the trend toward construction of multipurpose facilities designed to host year-round national and local conferences, trade shows and public events, such as concerts, rallies, and high school and college sports championship tournaments.

The stadium offers seating for 63,000 fans and features two massive scoreboards with HD-quality video displays, a large ribbon board and a retractable roof with panels that open from sideline to sideline. The multilevel facility also houses a retail store, 58 concession stands, 137 hospitality suites, club lounges, an exhibit hall, offices, meeting rooms, a press room and a press box.

Network, broadcasting and A/V cabling

Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW) of Dallas, TX, designed and coordinated installation of the building's electronic systems. Belden was selected as the cable supplier. To install the cabling system, WJHW chose Ermco/Sachs, a joint venture partnership between Sachs Electric Company (St. Louis) and Ermco (Indianapolis).

The cabling and connectivity infrastructure supports integrated networking, data/voice communications, audio/video, CATV, A/V control and building management systems.

Belden IBDN structured cabling, both fiber and copper, was installed in a standard star topology. The data backbone includes more than 30,000ft of Belden FiberExpress single-mode tight-buffer fiber-optic distribution cables. Nearly 1 million feet of plenum 1874A MediaTwist Cat 6 UTP cable was installed from the telecom rooms to approximately 2500 telecom outlets. This cable is based on twisted-pair technology to support data standards such as 10BASE-T, 100BASE-T and GigE networking. Its design provides robust multimedia performance, so it can also be used in applications such as analog or digital A/V, machine control and broadband. The voice backbone comprises a total of more than 80,000ft of 25-pair, 50-pair and 100-pair Cat 3 UTP cables.

For the broadcast and A/V systems, about 64,000ft of FiberExpress single-mode tight-buffer fiber-optic distribution cable was used. The cabling is primarily used for HD camera transmission. The local TV and network TV broadcasters use it to transmit their camera signals, through various interconnects, from inside the building to their satellite vans. Fiber-optic cabling also is used for the video replay system. This cabling is run from the field to the scoreboard control room in the press box. These cameras provide various camera shots throughout the building onto the field in addition to the beauty shot, which looks outside the retractable north wall to the city.

The cameras use more than 7000ft of 7804R fiber-optic HD-SDI cable. These SMPTE 311M HDTV cables are made with tight-buffer single-mode fiber and have four 20AWG auxiliary power conductors, per traditional design parameters. The fibers permit long-haul transmission of critical audio and video signals. They are smaller and lighter than traditional camera cables, resulting in easier handling during installation and in field applications. The SMPTE cabling is primarily used for stationary cameras throughout the bowl. It is run from the field locations (camera platforms) directly to the rack in the scoreboard control room in the press box.

For video, more than 40,000ft of 1695A low-loss plenum serial digital coax is used to achieve the performance required for high-frequency transmissions over long distances. Solid bare copper center conductors provide impedance stability and high return loss (RL). To ensure SMPTE performance standards or better are met, Belden's HD cables are 100 percent sweep tested to 3GHz, with a minimum RL of 23dB from 5MHz to 850MHz and 21dB from 850MHz to 3GHz. The cabling runs from broadcast boxes in the field to local and network racks in the basement of the stadium. It also serves as an analog backup in case the digital cameras do not work or are not available.

For loudspeaker wiring, 175,000ft of 6T00UP 10AWG, 186,000ft of 6000UE 12AWG plenum and more than 83,000ft of 5000UE 12AWG riser-rated loudspeaker cable were installed. Also installed was 84,000ft of custom 8AWG loudspeaker cable for high-power and long runs. For line-level audio, installers used 37,000ft of 88760 single-pair plenum twisted pair and 70,000ft of 82778 six-channel plenum audio snake with 27,000ft of 4-9-12-pair versions. More than 20,000ft of various AES/EBU digital audio single-pair and snake cable was used from the 1800 series.

More than 40,000ft of 1189AP RG-6 plenum coax was used for SMATV cabling, and more than 170,000ft of 1585A Cat 5e data cable was used for Ethernet network applications. The Cat 5e cabling is used strictly for broadcast communications between the field boxes and the local and network TV station racks. These are used for communications to the satellite trucks from inside the building.

The broadcast cabling system connects the main TV and ENG rooms, field broadcast cable boxes, outdoor pedestals, and press level locations. The entire A/V system is controlled from the press level and uses amplifier racks throughout the facility, which are also connected via single-mode fiber-optic cable. Four amp rooms, one in each quadrant of the building, are on the mechanical mezzanine level. They are used to power the main loudspeaker clusters and the large delay loudspeakers.

Finally, there are “JBC” boxes that are used for communications from the coaches on the field to the coaches in the press box. All cabling for the JBC box is a direct home run between the coaches with no splices allowed. This is an NFL requirement in order to minimize the possibility of communications being monitored by outside sources.

The project was completed in August 2008, and Lucas Oil Stadium opened in time for the Indianapolis Colts' season kickoff.

Steve Lampen is multimedia technology manager at Belden.