Lower.com Field - Columbus, Ohio
Thanks to Belden solutions, ESPN commended Lower.com Field for one of the smoothest grand openings ever broadcast at a new stadium.
When Historic Crew Stadium was built in 1999, it was the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States and home to the Columbus Crew.
Twenty years later, as defending Major League Soccer Cup champions, the team was ready for a bigger, more up-to-date stadium that was closer to downtown Columbus: the destination for sports and entertainment.
The existing venue became a training facility, and a new stadium was built four miles away. The 430,000-squarefoot, $314 million Lower.com Field is at the center of the mixed-use Astor Park development and adjacent to the Arena District.
Surrounding the stadium is a 62,000-square-foot public plaza—complete with a 14-foot by 24-foot video board—to host outdoor concerts, watch parties and other events.
As an indoor/outdoor venue, Lower.com Field needed cabling that could withstand the elements—sun, wind, rain and even snow—while supporting state-of-the-art technology.
The project also posed challenges in terms of cable and reel lengths that spanned beyond standard, widely available options.
The project had a tight deadline as well. Quick product delivery was key to making sure the Columbus Crew would be ready to host its first home game. Despite jobsite shutdowns due to the pandemic, and installers being offsite for nearly six weeks, aggressive timelines couldn’t be compromised.
Because of Belden’s reputation for quality cable and connectivity solutions for stadium and entertainment venues, there was already an established relationship with the owner’s representative. That team knew Belden could provide the service, support and solutions that Lower.com Field needed.
“Part of Lower.com Field is under a roof, but the main concourse area is open to the outdoors,” says Christopher Moonan, project manager at The Superior Group. “That presented a lot of challenges that Belden was able to solve. They really helped us get through this project by what they were able to offer.”
Belden provided all cabling and connectivity solutions for the stadium, from horizontal to broadcast cabling.
FiberExpress Indoor/Outdoor OS2 Fiber Distribution Cable and Fusion Splice-On Connectors were used for fiber infrastructure. The connectors combine the benefits of fusion splicing with the simplicity of field-installable connectors to improve installation performance and reliability over mechanical splice connectors.
Because the headend room (where broadcast trucks plug into the system) is located on the opposite side of the facility from where games are played, extra-long runs were needed. “On average, we had runs between 1,200 feet and 1,700 feet,” says Moonan. “We even had a 2,200- foot run out to a site where a DJ can plug into.”
Spools with more than 1,000 feet of cable were hard to find in stock, but Belden was able to deliver them on time, so Lower.com Field had a working broadcast system for the first game. Otherwise, the first home game would’ve been postponed.
The REVConnect® 10GXW System was also deployed at Lower.com Field. As the industry’s smallest-diameter Category 6A cable, it’s designed for smart building applications and in-building wireless networks to support highdensity, high-bandwidth demands. REVConnect Connectivity supports easy, reliable terminations using a single method for all RJ45 connections and components.
The REVConnect® 10GXW System was also deployed at Lower.com Field. As the industry’s smallest-diameter Category 6A cable, it’s designed for smart building applications and in-building wireless networks to support highdensity, high-bandwidth demands. REVConnect Connectivity supports easy, reliable terminations using a single method for all RJ45 connections and components. REVConnect FlexPlugs establish direct connections to devices that can’t accommodate typical field-terminated plugs due to plug size or cable routing constraints. They also eliminated the need for patch cords, biscuit boxes and jacks to decrease installation time and costs.
REVConnect Couplers create transition points between indoor/outdoor and plenum spaces. After the air-handling contractor performed value engineering, 90% of indoor spaces shifted to plenum spaces after design. As a result, indoor/ outdoor riser cabling transitioned to plenum cabling. “REVConnect 10GX Couplers allowed us to make that transition without any data loss,” Moonan explains. “In testing, you don’t even realize the coupler is there.”
The REVConnect System ensured on-time installation by significantly reducing rework and retesting. It only required a few minutes of termination training for entry-level technicians before they got to work. “The ease of installation let us have a crew go through and rough-in the cable and then send a crew behind them to terminate everything quickly so we could get everything done in a very short amount of time,” says Moonan.
When ESPN arrived a few days before grand opening to check the new systems, the crew anticipated a long day of testing. Thanks to the performance of the cabling system, however, they finished several hours early.
Ryan Adams, VP of technologies for The Superior Group, says that ESPN commended Lower.com Field for the seamless testing experience. They deemed it one of the smoothest grand openings ever broadcast at a new stadium.
“Belden was able to deliver on everything, including meeting the demand of getting us longer-run reels during a very critical time for the project,” says Moonan. “They really knocked it out of the park on shortening lead times and rushing to get us material we needed to get our broadcast system up and working for that first game.”