Indiana Pacers Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Through a public bid, Marion County’s Capital Improvement Board (CIB)/Pacers Sports & Entertainment (PSE) selected Indianapolis-based electrical and low-voltage systems contractor ERMCO, with installing and running broadcast cabling equipment in the Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Indiana Pacer’s home arena.
The project was financed by CIB with construction company Shiel Sexton as the Construction Manager. The goal was a complete infrastructure and technology upgrade to make this the fieldhouse of the future. The lead ERMCO employees overseeing the project were Doug Miller, Project Engineer; Derrick Hall, Systems Engineer; Joe Baker, General Foreman; and Cain Grocox, Account Executive.
Sports stadiums and arenas typically refresh their entire broadcasting equipment in 15-year cycles to keep up with changing technologies. These upgrades may include changes from analog audio to digital audio or improvements in resolution, such as HD to 4k.
Pacers Sports & Entertainment and the CIB planned a 3-year, phased approach for Gainbridge Fieldhouse’s technology upgrades, choosing ERMCO as their lead for technology including broadcast, low-voltage cabling, access control and video surveillance.
“Ermco has a strong partnership with Pacers Sports & Entertainment and other groups like the CIB and Shiel Sexton, so we were hoping to bring someone to the table who could further our expertise within the sports and live entertainment industry and put it to work,” Joe Baker says.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck while the project was underway. Only a quarter of the original staff were allowed to work on-site as essential personnel. Additionally, the pandemic resulted in unforeseen lead times on materials and components, further slowing down progress. This meant that, in 2022, the original cables in the Gainbridge Fieldhouse were over 22 years old, having mostly degraded or broken. ERMCO needed to install all-new cabling to eliminate the old cable’s connections and wear.
“A project at this level of complexity demands seamless, transparent communication,” says Kate Moritz, Communications Manager, Sheil Sexton. From the moment the Gainbridge Fieldhouse renovation started, the CIB, Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Shiel Sexton, and all trade partners have worked tirelessly to turn over a high-quality facility to be enjoyed for years to come.
ERMCO purchased nearly all of Clark Wire and Cable’s broadcast-quality fiber-optic and coax cabling, including cables for audio, video, camera, optical, and data transmission. The cabling covers the entire site, approximately 770,000 feet, from the 80 cameras on the field to the control room to the trailers outside the arena — where major networks will watch the game and broadcast via satellite. Clark also provided the control boxes for the cameras. With the cables, ERMCO performed several major upgrades to the arena, including the change from Triax cables to SMPTE cables, the installation of more fiber connections from point to point, and the repolishing of old fiber cables and connectors. In addition to installing new digital audio connections throughout the building, ERMCO also updated much of the analog audio cable for backup. The cables are tested for quality three times – first when they’re manufactured, then they’re tested again at the Clark quality control department, and the third and final test at the site. Rather than selling cables in thousand-foot bundles or multiples of 500, Clark pre-terminates and cuts wires to the length required by the contractor without charging additionally for the cut. Manufactured in the United States, the cables also exceed SMPTE standards for current and emerging formats. Combined, these features helped ERMCO avoid purchasing and wasting strands of cabling, receive cabling at the job site more quickly, and install cabling that would help the arena stay ahead of future technology demands.
“Ultimately, we chose Clark Wire and Cable for their exceptional ability and willingness to work with us under such unpredictable circumstances,” says Cain Grocox. Even the owner of Clark Wire and Cable became personally involved to assist and ensure that ERMCO and the project were able to get the cable when it was needed while facing unpredictable material sourcing issues and lead times exasperated by the pandemic. “By now, Clark’s spec position has been well-solidified among consultants, engineers, and architects, and it is also in a preferred position among integrators and contractors for ease of project success. Most importantly, we were looking forward to meeting and working with people that were so very positive and passionate about success across the board.”
ERMCO has installed nearly all of the equipment provided by Clark Wire and Cable. There have been multiple concerts, tournaments, and of course Pacers’ basketball while construction was in full swing. The three-phase project is nearly complete, with the square area outside the arena as the last remaining scope of the project. With the new SMPTE cables, the Indiana Pacers no longer need to use two separate cables to run their SMPTE-powered cameras. With power and video running on a single cable, Pacers Sports & Entertainment can operate with far less space and energy consumption.
Additionally, the installation of new data cables allows Pacers Sports & Entertainment to push audio through the DANTE network to other DSPs around the building. This eliminates the need for patch cables to route audio, again saving on space and energy. “In working on projects at the professional level like the NBA, they expect nothing short of perfection,” says Doug Miller. “By utilizing Clark’s latest cable designs, we were able to offer the best cable advancements in this very high-profile project for an excellent installation. Great partners like Clark Wire and Cable, who not only do wonderful work but are also willing and eager to provide top-notch products and service, allow us to offer the best of who we are.”