Oxford, Connecticut-based Metinteractive, which provides strategic solutions for architecture, communication and technology, was recently inundated with projects on the home front, having completed major new builds for a trio of Connecticut educational institutions within weeks of each other.
Metinteractive fielded personnel from its nationwide pool of staff and called upon its project management expertise to handle concurrent jobs for Sacred Heart University’s Martire Family Arena, Fairfield University’s Leo D. Mahony Arena and the University of Connecticut’s (UCONN) Toscano Family Ice Forum.
“As a national integrator we typically don’t do very many projects in our home state,” says Metinteractive CTO Jeff Mele. “So, it was unusual for three big local projects to come our way simultaneously, but we were nimble enough to make them all happen.”
Sacred Heart University Unveils New Arena
A $70 million premier hockey and skating arena on the West Campus of Sacred Heart University (SHU) in Fairfield, The Martire Family Arena houses the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I hockey programs, the University’s nationally-ranked figure skating team and men’s club ice hockey team, as well as the women’s club program. The new arena will also serve as a classroom for SHU students studying sports communication and media, sport management, hospitality and other areas.
Metinteractive was responsible for the sports engagement technology, including the PA audio system, distributed television and IPTV, video production and replay, and the broadcast cable plant.
“At the time, we were still in the midst of supply chain challenges,” notes Senior Engineer Richard Gold. “When we couldn’t get the amplifiers we specified or the alternates we suggested for the arena audio, we were lucky to find Linea Research amps, which were new to us and worked out quite well.” Fulcrum Acoustics loudspeakers were installed in Metinteractive’s custom mounts while an Allen & Heath Avantis digital audio console with “easy to navigate software got novice operators up and running quickly.” Building audio features JBL ceiling speakers.
Broadcast video was outfitted with a complement of Ross Video products: an Ultrix router, Carbonite production switcher, XPression motion graphics engine and Mira Express video replay server. Hitachi cameras with Fujinon lenses were mounted on Cartoni tripods; a second Allen & Heath Avantis digital audio console was linked to main PA’s board.
Broadcast feeds from games, campus cable TV and other sports channels are shown on IPTV and digital signage displays throughout the arena via VITEC’s AvediaServer and ArtioSign. Displays include approximately 75 NEC commercial TVs across the building, 98-inch Planar touch displays in the varsity locker rooms and a 136-inch LG Direct View LED display in the team video room. Video feeds are also routed to Daktronics’ four-sided center-hung scoreboard above the ice, which plays an in-house show for spectators as well as player intros and eye candy. A QSC Q-SYS control platform provides audio DSP, touch panels and control programming.
“The arena has the ability to send out broadcasts without requiring a broadcast network truck on the premises,” Gold explains. “The building has been futureproofed with a lot of connections, mostly fiber and audio, throughout terminating in 14 junction box TV locations. Connectivity and power hookups are available if SHU wants to do a convocation or small-scale concerts.”
Currently, SHU hockey games are broadcast on Sportsnet NY (SNY), the FloSports subscription streaming service and ESPN+.
Metinteractive provided some 60 hours of equipment training for the arena staff, faculty and students. “The university has undergraduate and graduate broadcast programs so faculty and students participate in running the arena’s audio and video,” says Gold. “A professional staff handles the cameras, switcher, video replay and graphics. The goal is to incorporate more students as they train up.”
Metinteractive’s Rhys Dawson served as Senior Field Engineer on the project. Corey Shearer was the Project Manager at general contractor Consigli Construction.
Fairfield University Adds Multi-Use Arena
Fairfield University built the approximately 85,000-square-foot Leo D. Mahony Arena in Fairfield to serve as a multi-use space for basketball and volleyball games, university events and concerts. Metinteractive provided the broadcast system integration for the building as well as the audio design/build with consultant oversight.
d&b audiotechnik 10S and 10A-D loudspeakers, 27A subwoofers and 30D amplifiers comprise the main arena audio system.
“The architect did not want any speakers below the line of building steel, so that required very careful positioning of the speakers so they met that requirement but still sounded really good,” says Project Engineer L. Keith Book. “We did an acoustic model with the loudspeaker software to do a predictive study of the sound distribution. Then we put those approximate locations into the 3D model we coordinated with the architectural model. Very little adjustment was needed once we were up in the air: The speakers performed just as we expected them to.”
Rounding out arena audio were Shure digital wireless mics, a Clear-Com HelixNet Digital Network Partyline intercom system and Clear- Com FreeSpeak wireless intercom plus Listen Technologies RF-based Assisted Listening systems. “Supply chain issues wreaked havoc with the intercom systems,” notes Book. “We had to rent intercom gear to get up and running while we were waiting for deliveries.” A QSC Q-SYS Core provides DSP and system control.
In additon to a high quality sound system, Metropolitan also provided a broadcast suite which is capable of producing a game directly for an on air service such as ESPN, or it can work in conjunction with the campus Media Center, sharing Dante audio, Intercom, and Video via fiber connections. This broadcast suite also contributes Slo motion, FX and camera video to the center hung score board and in house video displays.
The Broadcast suite equipment includes a Ross Video Ultrix broadcast video matrix, PTZ Optics PTZ cameras, a NewTek TriCaster 2 Elite digital media production system with 2-stripe control surface and a NewTek 3Play1 replay system.
The arena’s video distribution over CAT6 makes for efficient delivery of video over IP. AV systems for the locker rooms, offices, lounges, conference room and film room include a 4K digital projector for the film room, NEC M and V series video displays, Visionary Solutions video transport, Netgear network and QSC Q-SYS Ecosystem platform for DSP and system control.
At Metinteractive Don Ellis was the Project Manager and Anja Kerkapoly the Programmer. Acentech was the AV consultant and Gilbane the general contractor. Jae Chu managed the technical scope of work for Gilbane.
University of Connecticut Continues to Expand Sports Facilities
On the Storrs Campus of the University of Connecticut (UCONN), Metinteractive provided AV system integration and custom mounts for The Toscano Family Ice Forum and its locker rooms, offices, lounges and digital signage. Metinteractive had previously worked with UCONN furnishing AV and broadcast integration for its extensive Athletic District Development (ADD) program. The new arena is dedicated to the university’s men’s and women’s NCAA Division I ice hockey teams.
“Knowing the people and the campus from previous UCONN projects was huge for this job,” notes Metinteractive Project Engineer Greg Downing. “We were able to demonstrate our capabilities working with the construction manager providing detailed 3D drawings to integrate with other installers, like HVAC and electric, before the building was underway.”
According to Downing, “hockey rinks always pose audio challenges since they have so many hard surfaces – the ice is less absorptive than brick and there’s the safety glass around the boards. You need to consider speaker placement differently from an open-field stadium.”
The new ice forum’s main audio system features d&b audiotechnik 12S, 8S and 24S loudspeakers, 18A subwoofers and 30D amplifiers. “d&b is always a good choice, their equipment is top-notch,” Downing recalls.
A temporary mixing console was installed until the venue could take delivery of a back-ordered Yamaha QL1 digital audio mixer, selected for its compatibility with Yamaha boards in UCONN’s other sports facilities.
Other audio gear includes Shure wireless mics, a Clear-Com Arcadia IP-based central station intercom, Clear-Com FreeSpeak wireless intercom and HelixNet remote intercom stations and Listen Technologies RF-based Assisted Listening systems.
Metinteractive outfitted broadcast video with seven ceiling-mounted and sideline Panasonic professional PTZ cameras, a Hitachi HD camera system, a Teradek Bolt wireless video transmission system and a Ross Video Ultrix Carbonite ME1 switcher with TD touchscreen control, which was added to the roster to ensure compatibility with UCONN’s other athletic venues.
The AV systems for the ice forum’s peripheral rooms feature 75- and 86-inch Smart TV interactive displays and NEC M and V series video displays, which have laptop plug-and-play capabilities; the Smart brand units also have wireless access. Displays can show game coverage and footage from previous games for study while Brightsign digital signage delivers informative content, logos and graphics. Dante-equipped Lea amplifiers and a QSC Q-SYS Ecosystem for DSP and system control comprise the audio gear.
At Metinteractive Kyle Passaro was the Project Manager and Jesse LaBranche the Lead Tech and Anja Kerkapoly was the lead programmer in coordination with Rich Gold. Jaffe Holden was the AV consultant and Turner Construction the general contractor.
Metinteractive partnered with subcontractor McPhee Electric on all three university sports projects.
Additionally, Kyle Passaro also headed the Metinteractive team at work on the UCONN Hartford campus where they supplied 32- and 55-inch Elo touchscreens, a 65-inch NEC E series LCD display and Brightsign digital signage for the corridor installation of Hartford History Shapers.
History Shapers is a continuing interactive experience celebrating UCONN students and Hartford residents who are shaping their histories by rising up, sharing their voices and telling their stories.
About Metropolitan interactive, Ltd. (DBA Metinteractive)
Metinteractive is a unique design and systems integration firm specializing in the development of immersive digital environments and entertainment systems in public and private spaces. Based in Oxford, Connecticut, Metinteractive is a Women-Owned Business Enterprise with additional offices in New York, West Virginia, Ohio and Nebraska. For more information, please visit www.metinteractive.com.