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It's game...set...match for high-performance cabling

High-speed-information and reliable-broadcast technology both score high in the sports world of business. That's why developers decided to buy the best fiber and copper cable for the $250 million 23-acre expansion of the National Tennis Center-the 40-acre Queens, N.Y., home of the U.S. Open Grandslam Championship Tournament. To satisfy the needs of television and radio networks, the 23,000-seat Arthur

High-speed-information and reliable-broadcast technology both score high in the sports world of business. That's why developers decided to buy the best fiber and copper cable for the $250 million 23-acre expansion of the National Tennis Center-the 40-acre Queens, N.Y., home of the U.S. Open Grandslam Championship Tournament. To satisfy the needs of television and radio networks, the 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium (called Stadium 1) is interconnected, uplinked, tuned in, and turned on.

During the tournament, the big-name players are assigned to Stadium 1, the old Louis Armstrong arena (called Stadium 2 and Stadium 3), and four show (field) courts. The tennis officials and broadcasters don't know in advance which tennis match will have the greatest news interest, so all the courts must have full broadcast capabilities using movable and fixed cameras with a fiber-optic link to the TV head-end system in the stadium. This enables the sports commentators in a broadcast booth to view on-air matches without the need for a camera crew at any of the show courts. The show courts also feed into the internal TV distribution.

This need to capture simultaneous action on so many "stages" makes the Tennis Center different from other professional sports events. "The overall infrastructure is vast compared to a single-field stadium," said David M. Meehan, director of operations for the United States Tennis Association (USTA), White Plains, N.Y. "The broadcast systems drove the project," said Gary J. Negryez, project executive for the general contractor, Turner Construction Co., New York City. Radio and television equipment, and wire alone cost at least $10 million, he said.

Nevertheless, steps were taken to reduce project costs. Thomas Fiskaa, project engineer for the mechanical-electrical-plumbing consultant, Flack + Kurtz Consulting Engineers, New York, N.Y.; and Dave Burnor, Sound*Vision Consulting, Arlington, Texas, the AVT consultant; had to oversee various design changes in the communications and high-tech AVT systems during a value engineering process undertaken to reduce project costs.

E-J Communications Systems, a division of E-J Electric Installation Co., Long Island City, N.Y., completed the installation of a turnkey multimedia system, covering network (CBS and International) broadcast, internal cable TV distribution, scoring systems, and audio capabilities covering telephone, umpire, and scorekeeper announcements. The systems include television head end equipment, remote fiber-optic cameras, outdoor area loudspeakers, and all associated electronic equipment. These broadcast and information systems use a total of 2.2-million ft (413 miles) of high-performance cabling, including more than 80,000 terminations. Specifically, these systems include:

TV broadcast system-The TV broadcast system, used by CBS/USA-TV and all major foreign networks, offers full coverage from camera platforms. And to achieve full coverage of events, the stadium has six TV studios, three interview rooms, 30 broadcast booths and 10 radio broadcast positions. The camera box at each camera platform is served by multiple custom-made Triax, precision video coax and audio cables run backto the teleproduction area, which is linked via a fiber-optic network to a remote satellite uplink site.

Internal TV distribution-The USTA campus uses a dedicated internal cable TV distribution system consisting of five miles of broadband trunk cable and 18 miles of TV drop cable fed to more than 1000 TV sets installed throughout the site. This 750 MHz system can generate up to 117 channels from a multitude of sources, including direct feeds from the many cameras placed throughout the stadium, as well as regular broadcast TV, financial news and a variety of other sources.

Audio system-A number of stand-alone audio subsystems are linked together via a computer-controlled digital audio matrix, custom programmed by Sound*Visions Consulting. This audio system is carried throughout the sports complex as a second audio program (SAP) distributed on the cable TV system.

The audio system generates the output for the speech reinforcement of the umpire and scorekeeper on the Stadium Court and the show courts. The audio system also distributes audio signals-umpire, scorekeeper, ambient sound and interview room feeds-for broadcast use.

Computerized scoring system-All court scoring and statistics are fed back to the Stadium's scoring computer room. They are also relayed to the score boards located throughout the campus on the fiber-optic network. In addition, all courts are equipped with clocks and radar guns that also tie into the scoring system. Personal computers throughout the site can be used to retrieve match statistics on current or past matches.

Telephone system-The telephone cable plant, a certified Lucent/AT&T Systimax Structured Cabling System, is fully distributed to the entire campus. The new stadium houses the USTA's upgraded Northern Telecom PBX (private branch exchange) system. Emanating from the PBX room, riser cables serve four telephone closets per level. Telephone stations are run for back office, media rooms, private suites, broadcast booths and pay phones at various locations in the stadium.

To serve the campus, feeders extend from the PBX to hubs throughout the site for distribution to field courts, outbuildings, pay phones, teleproduction areas and corporate hospitality areas. All of the site installation involved outside plant construction with transient voltage protection (either from accidental power or lightning contact) on all cable terminations.

Providing more than 14,000 telephone lines in its present configuration, the telephone system will support analog voice, digital voice, ISDN, IEEE 802.3 Ethernet, IEEE 802.5 Token Ring and RS232D networks. (Category 3 construction is used for the four-pair unshielded twisted pair cabling).

Fiber-optic network-E-J Communications designed, installed and implemented a Siecor 62.5/125 micron, multimode fiber-optic network that carries video, audio, scoring, point-of-sale, USTA Internet site and a gateway to the Internet. The bandwidth of this multimode fiber can support technologies to 622 Mbps ATM backbone service. All appropriate cable-pulling equipment and pulling grips were used during installation.

After cable placement, all fibers were tested with an optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) and an optical loss test set (OLTS). The testing provides five parameters: distance, fiber attenuation (dB/km), event loss, link loss, and reflectance.

The installing contractor remains at the site to perform power and telecommunications renovation work. The old Louis Armstrong arena is being upgraded to the multimedia standards set by Stadium 1. In addition, two of the show courts are receiving upgrades.

Installation details

A pathway system of cable trays (two tiered) installed along the stadium corridors carry a large volume of cables. Normally, crews unravel cable on the floor and then lift it into the trays, thereby avoiding unwanted twisting of the cables. But that method wouldn't work because plumbing pipes and utility equipment along the route block access to the trays. E-J and Turner designed a cable tray roller system, so that cable was taken from reelat one end of the tray system and then pulled along over the rollers. When the cable runs were in place, they were lifted off the rollers and lowered into the tray bottom.

A database software program keeps track of every cable and the physical pathways throughout the site. All items follow a systematic naming pattern.

This insures that pathway fill is not exceeded anywhere along the cable route. When change orders are received, the contractor knows which pathway can accept new cables. For example, all jacks are identified by site, building, floor and wiring closet. The same software can track service orders and trouble tickets. So the time needed to troubleshoot a bad circuit, or to relocate a network user can be reduced, thus improving service levels.

Belden custom-made 215,000 ft of precision video triax cable because no manufacturer offered a plenum-rated version. The firm constructed the plenum-rated cable to withstand the rigors of installation without compromising performance. This ruggedness was needed because some of the cable runs are as long as 1500 ft, with many twists and turns. Belden also provided technical support, ran tests and advised on correct pulling tensions.

For the broadcast audio system, Belden supplied 120,000 ft of digital audio cable and 24,000 ft of analog multi-pair snake cables. Additional cable constructions include line level analog audio cable, 300-V PLTC instrumentation cable, and RS-422 cable.

The computerized Information Display System (IDS) uses DataTwist 350 plenum jacket UTP cabling for a Category 5 network, along with instrumentation and control cabling.

For E-J Communications, Tony Mann is project executive; Tom Kregel is project manager; Gary Epstein, project engineer; and John D'Agastino, general foreman.

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