Post-Katrina: New Orleans’ New Joe W. Brown Memorial Park, Part 1

What was once a flooded swamp in East New Orleans is now a beautiful athletic park with a top-notch football stadium. 11/07/2013 6:11 AM Eastern

Post-Katrina: New Orleans’ New Joe W. Brown Memorial Park, Part 1

Nov 7, 2013 11:11 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

The football stadium at Joe W. Brown Memorial Park in east New Orleans equipped with Community speaker arrays.

What was once a flooded swamp in East New Orleans is now a beautiful athletic park with a top-notch football stadium. Technical Services Group in Baton Rouge was called in to install a very tough sound system and Patrick Meek from TSG is going to tell us how that went, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Patrick, thanks for joining us on the SVC Podcast from Technical Services Group in Baton Rouge, La., down there in the bayou country. We’ve got a very big project with some big name sponsors in the Joe W. Brown Memorial Park in East New Orleans; a brand new football stadium and soccer venue there. First let’s hear a little about Technical Services Group. How long has that company been around and what sort of AV projects do you do?

Patrick Meek: Well, I appreciate the opportunity that’s been given to me to do this. Technical Services Group, we were founded approximately 30 years ago by the owner of our company—Bo Hoover. We are a technology company that specializes in AV and broadcast. Our home office is in Baton Rouge, however, we do cover a lot of the South, including New Orleans, Lafayette, Lake Charles, and over into Mississippi, Alabama as well.

You have a lot going on.

Yes, we do. We have a lot going on. We work in the public sector with big projects as well as design/build, and consulting as well for special customers. [Timestamp: 1:50]

Well, this one was a special situation. I don’t think we’ve had one on the SVC Podcast like this one because of how far the area came after Hurricane Katrina, where the whole area was devastated to what it is now which is a beautiful dual athletic park for football and soccer. But that park in the aftermath was under what, about 7ft. of water? And the project had some very respectable backers.

The area that this park was built in is right next to the swamp, so yes, it was a very badly damaged part of New Orleans East. It’s a good revitalization of the facilities. From my understanding there was not a football stadium there previously, definitely not one of this caliber, but we were definitely fortunate to be able to work on this project. We were working with CH2M Hill, who iwas the general contractor and also design consultant for the project. We were fortunate to be able to work on this project. It was being sponsored by Nike, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Foundation, and also the Drew Brees Foundation, who helped us along with the new football and track and soccer field as well. [Timestamp: 2:58]

No small project. They spent a considerable sum on getting this all done and now that we’re in football season people are used to seeing immaculately laid out football fields and this one is just a magnificent looking stadium. What was the scope of the project for Technical Services Group? Was your part of it mainly the sound system?

That’s correct. We were brought in as a design/build consultant to be able to design a sound reinforcement system for their football stadium as well as for the track and field/soccer field. [Timestamp: 3:28]

Okay, and that’s a big enough job. Obviously you had to select components that not only work well together but that would be capable of withstanding some pretty challenging weather conditions. I believe I saw you went with Ashly systems for amps and processing, so what was the advantage with that line of gear? Were you used to using that?

Yes, we did go with the Ashly Protea processing for both portions of the project. The football stadium has a Ashly Protea processor along with QSC amplifiers. And the track and field and soccer has the Ashly Pema 8250, which is the Protea-equipped media amplifier. Both of the systems, we wanted to try to make them as easy to use as possible. We used the RW-8C wall-mount remote lever controller for slide controls for ease of use. Since this is a public facility, we wanted to make sure that the continuity between the two systems was used so if somebody went in between the two they would be able to use either one of them flawlessly. [Timestamp: 4:30]

And the Ashly RW-8C is pretty easy for anybody to walk in and operate. I think it’s just a four-gang wall plate with something like eight inputs.

That’s correct. We gave them eight slide levers with mute controls.

Was that unit something you had put in before or was that particular controller something new for you?

Oh no, we’ve used the Protea system for quite a few years. This is the first time we did integrate with the Pema system, the Protea amplifier, but we have continued to use it since then and we’ll continue to use it as it is very rock solid as well as very affordable. [Timestamp: 5:04]

So on the football stadium the control point is going to be somewhere up there in the press box area at the top level of the stands?

Yes. They have press boxes in both fields. Of course the football stadium is quite more expansive than the track and field and soccer. They did have a home side, a visitors’ side, as well as an area for the announcers in the middle. The RW-8C control panel is mounted into the desk or into the surface. [Timestamp: 5:29]

Post-Katrina: New Orleans’ New Joe W. Brown Memorial Park, Part 1

Nov 7, 2013 11:11 AM, With Bennett Liles

Okay, so they just walk in and fire everything up. I would think that they may have more events than just football there or do they just use it during this part of the season?

This field is particularly for football. There’s no track associated with it, so I mean they do have the track field next door that has a soccer field in the middle, but this field was mainly established for football as football is not as big in Louisiana as it is Texas, but it’s pretty big here. [Timestamp: 5:54]

Well, all over the south in particular, people are just crazy over it. A lot of area for sound to cover so when they have something going on and they need mics, what kind of a microphone system did you install for them?

For the football stadium we needed something that was, of course, rock solid that could bear the elements, so we did choose the Lectrosonics Venue Series. And in choosing the Lectrosonics Venue Series, we went with the VRS modular receivers as well as the UT handheld transmitter and the MM400C wireless beltpack for the referee to be able to make announcements during a game. [Timestamp: 6:30]

How did you rig the receiving antennas for that system? Is it remote antennas with coax or did you use the local receiver antennas? No, we actually, with the stadium being primarily metal, we decided we did remote the antennas right inside the windows of the press box.

Not much of a coax run there but installation of wireless mic systems can get a little weird sometimes. What have you got operating in that area? Were there any frequency coordination issues to work out?

Everything worked great. Fortunately we didn’t have any issues with frequency coordination as being a primarily high school football stadium, and then again, of course, this football stadium backs up to a swamp, so as many gators and nature we have, they’re not using wireless systems. [Timestamp: 7:13]

We’ll let`s hope the fish and game people don’t start putting wireless stuff on the local gators. And those are the wildlife gators and not those Florida football types.

We don’t appreciate the Florida version here very much, but being in Baton Rouge there, they’re a good rival. We don’t really look forward to ever playing them, but are glad when they go home not too happy.

Well, as long as the tech stuff all works I guess you guys can go home happy at least. So you put in Community arrays and I think those are passive arrays with no more of a cable run than you had. You got some R2-77s, R2-94s, R2-52s. The R2-77s, it seems like I’ve seen a picture of those recently and those are pretty tough units. They look like it’s just a continuous piece of fiberglass on the outside.

Yeah, they’re beasts. From my understanding, with the R2, they were called R2 bass because they look like an R2D2 robot. They are a massive size and I felt for my technicians when they did this install during the summer, that they had to carry these things up the steps. There was no way for us to get a forklift – or not even a forklift, but a man-lift around the back side of the football field to be able to lift these speakers up into place, so they had to be actually manually carried to the top of the stadium. We used the R2-77s for the left and right, the R2-94s, which had a little bit tighter pattern, we used for the center, and then we did use the R2-52Zs for the long-throw visitors’ side. [Timestamp: 8:49]

Even though it was for sure tough hauling those things up to the mounting positions, after the sweat work was done and you got it all connected and fired it up and heard the sound system it was all worth it.

Oh, it had a great sound to it. You know, the sound was so loud, of course, and clear, that they were saying they could hear it without any trouble in the construction trailer, which was a couple of hundred yards away. [Timestamp: 9:09]

And I understand you also used some QSC, I believe it was ISA Series amps?

Yeah. We needed the horsepower and the QSC ISA 1350s provided the horsepower that we needed to push those Community drivers. That being said, QSC has always been very reliable; we’ve never had any issues with them. And being able to use those for the cost per amp, I guess, was trying to get this thing into a decent budget. Even though we did do the design/build portion of it, there still was some budget concerns and that we weren’t just throwing money at it to throw money at it. [Timestamp: 9:48]

And it’s all been in a while and you must have gotten everything working together because when the phone doesn’t ring with any “Oh, no’s” or “Come help’s” you know they’re okay.

Fortunately we can say that this system’s been in right at a year and we have not had any phone calls about the system at all. I’s been a great system, but choosing the right parts and knowing your product and knowing what will work together and what will stand the test of time in this type of facility, being in south Louisiana, which is humid weather, but also in a facility that the press box is only used a few months out of the year. And that equipment has to sit in there and just kind of hang out for the other parts of the year, but without any trouble so they know when they come in and they turn it on and it’s gonna fire right up, and it has. [Timestamp: 10:33]

We’ll that’s fantastic, Patrick. We’ll get more into the soccer complex in part two. I’m glad it all worked and thanks for taking the time to tell us about the Joe W. Brown Memorial Park football stadium in New Orleans. Patrick Meek with Technical Services Group in Baton Rouge, La.

Thank you.

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