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Xavier Cintas Center

Xavier University's $46 million sports center uses high-quality A/V everywhere, from the arena floor to conference and dining rooms.

Xavier Cintas Center

Mar 1, 2001 12:00 PM,
E. Victor Brown

Recent events included a visit from the Archbishop of Canterburyand the start of regular-season basketball and volleyball.

IF AN ORGANIZATION IS GOING TO BUILD A center for $46 million,that center is going to have to have it all. The Xavier CintasCenter at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, combines aconference center, dining and banquet services, and a 10,250-seatarena. And while the multipurpose building itself may beimpressive, the state-of-the-art audio-visual infrastructure makesit even more so by taking systems integration to dizzyingheights.

Using a shared-use design concept, The Cintas Center comprisesmultiple areas of audio-visual control. These include the mainarena sound system, whole building sound and video distribution,locker and training room systems, six conference room systems, twobanquet hall systems, a 450-seat dining facility, the arena’s clubbar and a media production facility. The audio-visual designconsultant on the project was Jack Schimizu of Veneklasen andAssociates, Santa Monica, California. The installation contractorwas ICB Audio & Video, Cincinnati, Ohio.


Ian C. Budd, owner of ICB, explains the project: The arena isprimarily intended for the athletics department of the universityand is the new home of the Xavier University basketball team. Themultipurpose capability of the arena and the center itself willpermit a substantial range of events including concerts,conventions, meetings and training programs. Many games arebroadcast nationally and regionally, further expanding theaudio-visual needs of the arena and the center. The mandate fromVeneklasen was to build an audio-visual system of unprecedentedversatility and quality. Making such a complex system simple inoperation for the primarily student-run venue further raised thebar.

At the heart of the Cintas Center is the 10,250-seat arena.While all arenas pose potential obstacles when it comes to audio,the Cintas Center posed special challenges. Chief among these wasthe deliberate lack of sound treatment due to the athleticdepartment’s desire for a very live environment. They felt a liveenvironment would add to the excitement of the team and the homefans and would maximize home-team advantage, Mike Luley, projectmanager with ICB said. As a multi-use athletic and event venue,this posed some serious obstacles to choosing a speaker system.


Veneklasen and Associates chose EAW MQ Series speakers for thearena. The system has 34 of them in 11 clusters suspended from thearena high steel. Each cluster has two hi/mid loudspeakers:MQ1366s, MQ1364s or one of each. This provides a 65 ? 60 or 65 ? 40pattern, depending on coverage area. A single MQ1312 low-frequencyspeaker rounds out each cluster, providing full-range coverage fromeach.

As this was ICB’s first install to use the MQ series, Luleycommented that while he was slightly anxious regarding the clarityat the seams of each coverage point, those concerns evaporated oncethe system was in place. While computer based modeling providedgeneral placement and configuration criteria, system setupprocedure required overall equalization rough-in for each clusterand its coverage area.

The 10 arena-seating clusters were then time-aligned, with thecenter scoreboard cluster as the point of origination. Thescoreboard cluster provides coverage to the floor and immediatefloor seating. After general equalization and time alignment, Luleyset up final parametric equalization for each cluster via Peavey’sMediaMatrix. Tuning and time alignment were accomplished usingSIA-Smaart Pro software.

Other potential obstacles for ICB were achieving optimal speakerplacement and signal routing. Luley explains, The arena design andconstruction required only five main trusses. With the consultant’sdesign placing EAW clusters in a certain position in a modeledspace, the lack of optimal rigging points made this a significantchallenge. We have a good relationship with stagehands Union LocalNo. 5, so we worked closely with them on ways to rig the systemsafely with optimal placement. The result was fantastic, with stagehands working and planning side by side with installers to get thejob done right.

Riggers used lasers to obtain exact coverage angles. Speakercabling from each cluster runs to a 4 ? 4 junction box located onthe catwalk system. From there, cables are routed by an extensivecable pass system to the amp room located on the upper level of thearena.

While four fiber-optic lines resolved signal routing over thenearly 1000-foot span within the arena, the complex and enormousDSP power necessary to provide ultimate versatility was resolvedwith Peavey MediaMatrix. The decision was made to offer bothMediaMatrix and analog mixer control of the system for the goal ofversatility, Budd said. Mike Luley performed all programmingoperations for the center’s three MediaMatrix systems. One systemis housed in the telecommunications room on the event level withanother in the control room at the highest level of the arena. Thethird is part of the extensive conference center system.


The arena control room matrix is currently set with eight majorpreset configurations for the various sporting and special events.This allows the students and faculty who run the system simple1-touch operation for complex changes. Analog mixer controlprovides a familiar work surface to visiting engineers We werepleasantly surprised at the ease of setup and configuration withthe MediaMatrix system, Budd said. They achieved analog controlwith a Soundcraft K1 32 mixing console wired to a series of BitreeVPP48T patch bays. Peavey CAB Series CobraNet hubs convert arenainputs from digital back to analog and then to the Bitree patchbays. Arena audio inputs are simultaneously kept in the digitalrealm for PC control of the system and signal transmission to theamp room.


Located on the upper level of the arena, the amp room’s 28 QSCCX Series amplifiers provide power not only for the arenas EAWloudspeakers, but also the entire center’s distributed audiosystem. Audio signals and attendant DSP commands from the controlbooth’s MediaMatrix system are transmitted via CAT-5 wiring to theamp room’s CobraNet hubs. Here, the signal is converted back toanalog with each D/A converter channel corresponding to high, midand low program information for each EAW cluster. A PC interfaceallows remote control and visual access to the arena control roommatrix mainframe.


Arena audio-visual inputs are routed via three systems comprisedof a house input system, media input system and ENG input system.House microphone and line level inputs are routed from 10event-level input panel locations to the telecommunications room,also located on the event level. Here, they are converted fromanalog to digital via CAB CobraNet hubs. The digital signal is thentransmitted via CAT-5 lines to an HP-switched network, where it isthen routed up five stories, to the opposite side of the buildingand into the control room via two fiber-optic lines.

Two of the 12 house panels are located at each end of the arenaproviding microphone and line-level inputs, as well as speaker sendties for concerts or other events. This eliminates long snake cableruns while allowing sound reinforcement companies to haveevent-level mix position and stage inputs or amplifiers and speakerstacks at either end, Luley said. The addition of video inputs,which tie into event-level floor panels, allow both audio and videosignal routing to the media production room and the control roomvia MediaMatrix and fiber-optic lines.

The media system is comprised of seven input panel locationsproviding both audio and video input routing to the two massive24-by-36-inch ProCo breakout panels on the Center’s loading dock.These provide remote broadcast trucks quick and easy audio-visualaccess to the arena floor, thus eliminating the numerous andtime-consuming cable runs required at other venues.

A third input system allows ENG input at two locations in thearena for routing to an external ENG panel. Providing similarcapabilities, the ProCo panel resides at an exterior dock at theupper level of the center. This allows a second broadcast truck tooperate simultaneously with the event-level loading dock’s breakoutpanels. All Cintas Center breakout panels were custom fabricated byProCo Sound.


According to Budd, the media production facility was a jointeffort between ICB and the university’s media productiondepartment. This was because the former production facility had tobe moved to the Cintas Center, requiring a marriage of existing andnew equipment, Budd said. The facility’s purposes are to record andplay back events at the center and to handle video productioncontained within events. This includes video played on theDatatronix scoreboard during games or distributed internally to anyof the center’s distributed video areas. A MediaMatrix mainframeallows infinite programming and production versatility of the 32lines of digital audio entering and exiting the productionroom.


All house audio input-panel locations have video inputs that arerouted to the media production room. The major source of thedistributed video is CATV. They were once again looking for atotally versatile system capable of transmitting video originatingfrom the media production room, the university’s closed-circuitcable system, or standard cable broadcasting, Luley explained. Thiswas accomplished by bringing in a trunk line from the university’scable system and modulating video onto it from the media productionroom. The combined sources are distributed around the building.This allows those with-in the facility to choose between broadcastcable, university channels and broadcast material generated withinthe Cintas Center. Video distribution is achieved through Panasonicmonitors and VCRs in 72 locations throughout the Center.


Audio distribution is accomplished through 61 Atlas FC-104, 37Atlas EQ818, 37 Tannoy CMS TDC-60, 50 Tannoy CPA-5T and 24 TannoyCMSTDC-60 speakers. These ceiling- and wall-mounted speakers areinstalled throughout the facility and are fed program material fromeither the arena control room, the media production room or sourcesystems within their area. We’ve worked extensively with Tannoyproducts, so I knew they could deliver the musicality and ease ofinstall we needed on such a large project, Luley said.


An extensive 2,100-square-foot weight training room is at thedisposal of over 200 Xavier athletes. It is equipped with four EVSX80B two-way, 8-inch and 2 EV SB121 12-inch, sub loudspeakercabinets. The adjacent men’s and women’s basketball and women’svolleyball locker and shower rooms have identical audio-visualsystems. Each has a lounge area equipped with stereo-configuredTannoy CMS8 ceiling-mounted speakers and a single CMS110 subwoofer,also ceiling-mounted. Both locker and training rooms providestudent athletes the choice of local program material from CD,cassette, VCR or radio.

Video signal is derived from the media production room providingcampus cable TV, standard cable programming or in-house arenaevents. The amenities in all three areas are one-of-a-kind,according to university recruiters. David Armstrong, the strengthand conditioning coach at Xavier for 35 years, concurred, addingthat the facilities are not only state-of-the-art, but among thebest in the world for college and Olympic-level training.

A dedicated press room provides full audio-visual integrationwith several ProCo panels providing broadcast input routing tobreakout panels on the loading dock as well as the media productionroom. Here, the press room broadcast can be routed to the arenascoreboard, the campus cable system, and to the 22 corporatesuites.


Although totally integrated within the Cintas Center, the sixconference rooms and two banquet rooms that make up the SchiffFamily Conference Center can also be totally independent.Administered by a separate entity known as the Xavier ConsultingGroup, the conference center is a for-profit marketing ventureproviding corporate conference administration for companies inOhio, Kentucky and Indiana. According to Budd and Luley, some ofthe rooms are booked solid well into 2002.

Several of the rooms have movable partitions, effectivelydoubling or tripling the available space. All conference rooms havea spectacular view of the arena, further enhancing their integrateddesign within the center. Each is equipped with one or moreElectrohome EPS-1024 projectors and large retractable projectionscreens. As in every area of the center, each conference room’saudio-visual system can provide source signals or take its sourcefrom the arena control room or the media production facility.

The conference room audio is controlled by a separateMediaMatrix system while video utilizes Extron Matrix switchers.Overall control is provided by a Panja AMX control system thatprovides RS232 control of the audio and video switching. We chosethe AMX because it can be programmed to control virtually anything.Once you have it configured, it’s rock solid. Budd said.

The control system is housed in a central audio-visual controlroom where all of the source equipment is located. This controlroom allows the capability for any room to exercise control androuting from any piece of source equipment to any conference room.Each conference room can be used for source broadcasting toanywhere in the complex. This allows the same functions as thededicated press room on the arena level.

Each room features AMX touch panels, handheld wireless remotesand ProCo audio-visual input breakout panels. The conference centerMediaMatrix system can also operate as a backup to either of theother two systems within the center. While it would require themovement of some physical hardware, the potential does provide aneven greater level of comfort that backup is built into the system,Budd said.

The two banquet rooms are also divided by a movable partitionwith combined seating capability of 840. These also have aspectacular view of the arena floor. There are several ProCobreakout panels with microphone and line-level tie lines. Any oneof them is capable of being a mix position. The banquet rooms alsofeature AMX control with touchscreen panels and handheld wirelessremotes


The Cintas Center has a 450-capacity student dining area on oneside of the arena and two banquet rooms on the opposite side. Forevening events, the dining area can double as a banquet area.Versatility is the hallmark of the dining facility’s audio-visualsystem. Numerous video monitors are positioned around the room forpatron viewing. Several microphone and line inputs arestrategically placed around the room for local origination.

These route to a closed room with independent mixer control forcassette deck, CD, AM/FM tuner and VCR. Tannoy ceiling-mountedspeakers provide not only local audio, but full integration withthe Center’s audio-visual system allowing CATV programtransmissions from the media control room, arena events or standardcable television. The 22 corporate suites accommodate groups of upto 16. Like the dining facility, each has a Panasonic monitor thatallows full in-house and remote programming.


Located halfway up at the curve of the horseshoe-shaped arena,the private club bar is also equipped with video monitors and anaudio system. Audio is capable of local or external origination ofprogram material while the video monitors are capable of internalor external cable, or closed circuit programming.


The conference rooms were the first to be finished because theyhad a separate entrance, allowing immediate use of that portion ofthe facility at the end of July. The banquet halls were readyapproximately three weeks later, and the arena was finished just intime for the dedication in September 2000.

While there are management-level staff among end user groups,the actual running of the system is often performed by studentworkers. This required a significant amount of on-the-job training,so ICB staff attended the first few of every type of event.

Budd had nothing but praise for Jack Schimizu of Veneklasen andAssociates, they had nothing but praise for them. He was extremelythorough, not only with the project itself but also in getting toknow all of the contractors. He was uncompromising when it came tothe end product. This manifested itself through his desire to hearour opinions regarding even the smallest details.


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