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Atlanta Braves SunTrust Park

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To create the best wireless experience of any North American venue, the Atlanta Braves franchise used end-to-end cabling and connectivity from Belden to support a 5G network, 200GB of bandwidth, and 800+ hotspots across SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta.

Customer

With its 20-year lease on Turner Field set to expire, the Atlanta Braves were ready to establish a new home in Cobb County, Georgia. Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on renovations and upgrades to the existing ballpark, the franchise wanted to invest in a new, state-of-the-art venue that would provide fans with a one-of-a-kind digital experience starting before they even entered the ballpark.

As plans for the 41,500-seat SunTrust Park were born, the ballpark became part of a bigger project also conceived by the Atlanta Braves: a 1.5-million-square-foot mixed-use development known as The Battery Atlanta. This entertainment district would surround the ballpark and feature retail, restaurants, apartments, bars, a luxury hotel, a theater and offices leading to the ballpark. The goal was to create a year-round destination that fans would visit even on non-game days.

In addition to being the oldest continuously run baseball franchise, completion of The Battery Atlanta would make the Atlanta Braves the only sports franchise that also serves as the landlord of a large-scale, mixed-use development with hundreds of tenants.

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Challenge

The Atlanta Braves wanted to deliver the best wireless experience of any North American venue, providing all the bandwidth their fans desired without any restrictions or delays. Knowing that fans would want to constantly upload streaming video and photos to social media, bandwidth and reliability were top of mind. But with an IT team of only 18 people, the ballpark also needed the wireless infrastructure to streamline operations and be simple to manage.

For this reason, a “one-network” concept was explored. Almost every third-party vendor and building system, from the sprinklers and HVAC systems to elevators and LED lighting, would be connected to a single network vs. having many disparate networks operating separately.

To pull this off, the ballpark needed a reliable cabling infrastructure that could support tens of thousands of devices, emerging applications and new technologies – including a distributed antenna system (DAS); 30 LED scoreboards; 1,250+ wireless access points; and 1,350+ screens – without delays or downtime.

The ballpark’s $12 million investment in technology was expected to generate recurring revenue not only by supporting mobile purchases from fans on game days, but also by selling sponsorships and ad placements that can be displayed on the venue-wide video system, interactive kiosks and digital signage.

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Discovery

After talking to employees at other stadiums and ballparks built recently across the United States, the Atlanta Braves’ IT team discovered that bad infrastructure decisions could make or break a project of this magnitude.

Knowing how critical the cabling infrastructure would be to achieve the connectivity goals of SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta, construction managers JLL and American Builders recommended that Belden join the project team.

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Due to a long-term working relationship, JLL was familiar with Belden’s cost-saving methodologies, ballpark experience and product portfolio. They also knew that Belden could help keep the project on track, ensuring that cables and connectivity were installed on time so network connections could be tested and devices could be configured well before opening day.

After meeting with key Atlanta Braves stakeholders, contractors and owner’s representatives, the project owner voiced support for using Belden cable and connectivity throughout the ballpark and surrounding mixed-use development, knowing that Belden’s solutions and services would provide ample connectivity for everything they wanted to accomplish.

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Solution

From racks and cabinets to copper and fiber solutions, all of the cabling and connectivity inside SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta is from Belden.

More than 250 miles of fiber optic cable and 500 miles of 10GXS Category 6A cable, along with fiber and copper connectivity, are installed throughout the ballpark to support:

  • 200GB of internet bandwidth
  • A 5G cellular network
  • 10,000 ports and 800+ hotspots
  • Advanced Wi-Fi design with 1,250+ wireless access points for connectivity anywhere in the ballpark and The Battery Atlanta
  • Radar technology that captures player data, such as spin rate, foot speed and bat angle
  • Display monitors, interactive signage, digital kiosks and scoreboards
  • POS systems at concession stands
  • Connectivity to the Ballpark app, which provides access to digital ticketing and parking, mobile entry and check-in, interactive maps and directories, Waze integration and seat and experience upgrades
  • Suite control systems and displays

After determining that traditional field-mount plugs wouldn’t fit inside the housings being installed on the ballpark’s outdoor monitors, wireless access points and security cameras, the Atlanta Braves opted to switch to Belden’s REVConnect Field-Mountable Plugs, which fit into the housings, support up to 100W of power and shorten termination time. One reliable, easy and versatile termination process is all that was required, regardless of the device being installed.

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For AV applications throughout the ballpark, Belden’s 4K Ultra-HD Media Cable was used. Designed to deliver 4K content over 100 m in a unique, small and sleek design, the cable provides 100% shielding from noise interference for optimal 4K performance.

Grass Valley, a Belden Brand, is bringing live production capabilities to SunTrust Park. Grass Valley LDX 86 WorldCam cameras feature traditional HD/3G acquisition, as well as the ability to upgrade directly to 4K UHD and/or XtremeSpeed (3x in 1080p or 6x in 1080i) functionality. The cameras deliver instant time-to-air with no internal storage requirement.

The Atlanta Braves opted to switch to Belden’s REVConnect Field-Mountable Plugs. One reliable, easy and versatile termination process is all that was required, regardless of the device being installed.
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Results

Instead of third parties running their own separate networks inside the ballpark, every device and service provider now utilizes a singular network that streamlines operations and enhances security for the 18-person IT team.

With Belden’s cabling and connectivity infrastructure working behind the scenes to support increased network capacity, the Atlanta Braves’ wireless network enables everything that happens at the ballpark and The Battery Atlanta, from fan-facing services to business transactions.

During its April 2017 opener, SunTrust Park was able to connect 10,708 devices that engaged in 23,831 sessions and consumed 3,362GB of data. The Atlanta Braves reached its goal of delivering the best wireless experience of any North American venue, allowing the tens of thousands of people who walk through the gates for every game to be on the network at the same time without any issues.

With Belden’s cabling and connectivity infrastructure working behind the scenes, the Atlanta Braves’ wireless network enables everything that happens at the ballpark and The Battery Atlanta, from fan-facing services to business transactions.