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Athletics Scores with UIT

Revamped video control room enhances the Cardinal fan experience
Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Stanford Stadium. Photo Credit: Stanford University

If you're like most Stanford football, basketball and volleyball fans, you probably enjoy the big screen video entertainment and digital scoreboards that surround the stadium and court.

Behind those flashy screens and colorful lights is a sophisticated technology system tied into a newly revamped control room in Maples Pavilion.

Maples Pavilion video control room last summer before its upgrade.

Recently, University IT (UIT) partnered with Stanford Athletics to outfit the control room with fiber cables and networking architecture to enable a seamless game-time display of all those videos that fans love.

“There are immense IT demands on a control room that delivers this level of production,” said Garrett Cuffel, Manager for Technical Operations for Stanford Athletics. “UIT was instrumental in working with us and our installers to provide the necessary IT infrastructure for this room to thrive and expand.”

UIT expertise enhances fan experience

The original control room was almost entirely analog, with many small screens in fixed locations, and the switching equipment shared the same space as the control room. All this made for a very noisy, warm, and cramped space.

Maples Pavilion video control room today, after the completion of its upgrade.

The new room has large, configurable flat screen monitors, and is separate from the server racks allowing for a much quieter and more comfortable workspace. It also uses modular picture-in-picture TVs that can change on the fly. That allows staff to set up the room differently for football, basketball, or volleyball. Not only does this new setup improve the delivery of scoreboards, video, and game time stats, but it’s configured so that it can be connected to many other facilities in the future.

“This control room gives Stanford Athletics the ability to provide sports goers the fan experience they would expect to see at a professional venue,” Cuffel said. “Cardinal fans are excited to see this level of entertainment produced at the university level, establishing our department as an industry leader across the nation."

Countdown to kickoff

Because athletic seasons run throughout the academic year, there was only a small window in the summer for the project, which included renovating the space, installing new equipment and networking the new system. Once construction was complete, UIT provided inside expertise in connecting new equipment with other Stanford systems.

“The networking setup in the new space was extremely complicated. We even needed multiple new fiber runs to and from the building,” said Bruce Phillips, UIT Facilities Engineer.

New storage room for servers that support the Maples Pavilion video control room.

With an extensive internal network and connectivity to the Stanford network in multiple places, the complexity of the setup between the various systems in the room and the athletics facilities kept the project team very busy as the countdown to the 2015 fall sports season neared. Final touches were completed just one day before the first volleyball match, and just one week before the first home football game.

“It was a stressful last few days,” said Jay Heyman, Technical Consultant with UIT's Computer Resource Consulting (CRC) group, which led the project, “but there’s nothing like seeing your hard work pay off with great video and a Cardinal win.”

Training for future seasons

It wouldn’t be athletics if the team wasn’t looking ahead to and training for the next season. The same holds true for the video control room project team, who expects even greater wins in the future.

“We are thrilled with the immediate enhancements to our production room,” Cuffel said, “but we'll continue to push the envelope to see the full potential of a room that has been built to sustain exponential growth.”

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