Post-Katrina: New Orleans’ New Joe W. Brown Memorial Park, Part 2

First there was a flood, then a swamp, and now it’s a beautiful sports park with a football stadium and soccer field in East New Orleans. 11/21/2013 5:50 AM Eastern

Post-Katrina: New Orleans’ New Joe W. Brown Memorial Park, Part 2

Nov 21, 2013 10:50 AM, With Bennett Liles

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First there was a flood, then a swamp, and now it’s a beautiful sports park with a football stadium and soccer field in East New Orleans. Technical Services Group in Baton Rouge had to come up with a sound system that could handle tough weather and keep on going. Patrick Meek is here to wrap up his story about how it all happened. That’s coming up right now on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Patrick, thanks for being back for part two and we’re talking about the Joe W. Brown Memorial Park in New Orleans, which was under water after Hurricane Katrina. With lots of help and sponsorships they got it cleaned up and eventually built a new football stadium and soccer complex there. Technical Services Group put sound systems and wireless mics in both venues. That was a lot to do. What was the timeframe on all of this? Was it a rush job or did you have time to figure things out as you went along?

Patrick Meek: No. No time at all. It was a pretty tight timeframe. It’s unfortunate, of course, being in south Louisiana, we never know what the weather’s going to be like. So we were scheduled in August to complete our portion of the project. We had just a couple of weeks to be able to get ours in. But of course we had some nasty weather, and with that nasty weather came swamp-like conditions out there at the field. That being the case, we had to wait on the press box to be installed before we could install our speakers and our head-end equipment in that press box. So, you know, with the ground the way it was they were not able to get the heavy machinery in to accomplish that, so it was tough on us trying to get it in before the football season started with, unfortunately because of delays on the construction side. Because of weather, we finished up around mid September of 2012. [Timestamp: 2:05]

Yeah, when you have that many different outfits working on one project, one gets delayed and there’s the big domino effect of everybody getting bogged down. You’ve got a lot of area to cover with the sound. What are the cable runs like from the amps in the press box to the Community Speaker arrays?

Well, I mean the Communities were right on top of the press box, so the runs weren’t bad at all. We went with a heavy-duty 12/2 West Penn wire. But we were fortunate enough to work with the contractor and the electrical contractor onsite that gave us the proper conduit in place to be able to run those cables with fairly short lengths. [Timestamp: 2:39]

And we talked a little about this in part one, but how do the sound systems differ between the one you put in for the football stadium and the other one for the soccer field?

The main thing would be the loudspeakers. Of course we went with Community R.5s. We only had a single side of bleachers to cover for the soccer stadium, so we did not need the kind of horsepower or the type of system that we needed for the football stadium. But in using the R.5s, we were able to use the Pema, as we had spoken about previously, the 8250, which was the 8x250 70V amplifier with the Protea equipped. Then also again, we used the actually RW8C 8-channel wall remote lever. The only other difference between the two systems was the microphone system. With only really needing local coverage for the microphones we went with a Sennheiser VWG3 series handheld and lavalier. So really that was the only main differences between the systems. [Timestamp: 3:48]

And did you rig the wireless mic receiving antennas the same way on the soccer field as you did on the football stadium with the remote antennas?

Correct. Correct. We did.

Well, when you get that turned on and tested, if it works and it’s a tough system, you should be able to depend on it once it’s set up right. Did you have to bring people in and train the locals there on this stuff? It sounds like it’s pretty easy to operate and control.

We did. We did. We had some of the representatives from City of New Orleans that are over the Parks and Recreation Department that came out and we did a training for them and they were very pleased with the system; how it operated, how it sounded, being able to have the consistency between the two systems of the ease of use and the same control panel for each, they were very excited about. [Timestamp: 4:32]

Post-Katrina: New Orleans’ New Joe W. Brown Memorial Park, Part 2

Nov 21, 2013 10:50 AM, With Bennett Liles

When you have an announcer up there in a closed press box during an event, that’s one thing but having somebody with an open mic down on the field they’ve got to be able to cut through all the crowd noise and minimize the delay and echo at the same time. What’s the pattern like on these arrays? Did you have to have them really tight or was the emphasis just on covering a lot of area?

No, we were actually trying to cover quite a bit of area. I mean on the R.5s, the far left and far right, we used the R.5-66TZs and on the center line we had two of the R.5-94TZs, so we were able to keep that coverage pretty consistent right there to the bleacher area, but of course you are able to hear it on the track and soccer field as well. [Timestamp: 5:16]

You were talking before about the weather. These systems have to be able to stand up to some horrendous weather conditions in that part of the country with very little maintenance.

They do, and fortunately the way that the Communities are built, they’re able to stand the test of time. You know, I get calls from people all the time that want to look at an outdoor sound system and then you show them what the price is to get a real system and they freak out. But they’ll be back in a couple of years because their system that they decided to put in then, they bought their stuff from some local retail big-box store. It’s just not going to last them and they’ll come back because it may not be the first system they put in, but it will most probably be the last. [Timestamp: 5:58]

And I guess that part of that job is trying not to overwhelm a client with lots of technical jargon but then when they actually hear the system for the first time they’re going to just know what they like, and there’s no substitute for that.

That’s correct. Very, very correct.

And what’s coming up next for Technical Services Group? What have you got going on? Is there anything you can tell us about?

Well, we’ve got a lot going on. We do a lot of work here locally as well as outside of the city of Baton Rouge. Right now we’re working on a project for one of the larger hospitals in the area. We do quite a bit of work on the broadcast side with LSU football and LSU sports property, so that always keeps us busy during football season. We just try to stay on top of things and keep our customers happy and keep rolling along. [Timestamp: 6:43]

Have you attended any of the games they’ve had in there? Your outfit goes way back with that football stadium and the games in that area don’t you?

We go back with the football program quite awhile. They did have a large addition recently. Unfortunately we were not the selected contractor, but they have done some work and are really improving it, so we just get a little bit louder and a little bit more intimidating for the fans and the football teams that come into play LSU. [Timestamp: 7:12]

Well, it was a big project, but when you see things happen in there now, you know a lot of people are having a lot of fun in that stadium and the sound system you put in is right at the center of it all for generating that excitement so congratulations to TSG on that. Patrick Meek, vice president of sales and marketing with Technical Services Group. Thanks for telling us about it.

Yes, sir. It was a great project and I definitely enjoyed being part of it. Being a New Orleans native, it was good to be able to do that project. [Timestamp: 7:41]

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