Football team KAA Gent – aka the Buffalos – initiated plans to build a brand new stadium six years ago – the country’s first new outdoor sports arena in 34 years, with a capacity of just under 17,000 spectators. The construction started in 2011, and, at press time, the building is close to completion, becoming a multiplex site: around the green football rectangle, the arena includes sports facilities, a spa, restaurants, VIP skyboxes and more.
From day one, AV specialist Play was part of the project, the company’s reputation in the field of installation and integration of audio and video playing a key role in the assignment. “Both the principal/promoter of Ghelamco and the team management were convinced of the importance of installing a reliable and efficient sound system in the new stadium,” says Dirk Verhellen, CEO of Play. “The government imposed the installation of a fixed audio system, and included parameters such as speech intelligibility, mains autonomy and redundancy, evacuation reliability… and not only for the 17,000 capacity stadium, but also for the corridors, bars and surrounding offices and stores.”
The resulting design, which took some time to be ratified, is best described as ‘a compromise between the FIFA regulations and common sense’. With Bose being a brand partner since the Play’s 1988 formation, and Bose’s proven track record for similar stadium installations, Verhellen’s choice was obvious. “Over the years, we have established a firm partnership, not only because of the quality of the equipment but also on what goes beyond the speaker enclosures: research and support in projects, design and commercial back-up. We’ve been driving this road together,” he says.
Bose came into the project in the earliest stage of design – the Bose Modeler software proved to be very useful to carry out research and simulate speaker configurations in the various locations in the stadium. “The whole research was essential in the process and allowed us to calculate the investment,” adds Verhellen.
The Bose configuration in the Ghelamco building is a mix of low-impedance and 100V speakers. “We had anticipated a potential output loss because of the distances in the stadium, and carried out the calculations to deliver the necessary output power,” continues Lieven Verzele, sales support engineer with Play (pictured right with the stadium’s amp rack). “In the arena, we use two different types of the LT speaker range. The upper speakers, LT 9702 WRs, are flown at a height of 39 metres, with their position and dispersion angle based on Bose’s research and elements such as the number of seats, the stands and materials used.”