At any given home game, more than 80,000 fans stream through the entry gates of the famed Notre Dame Stadium to cheer for their Fighting Irish football team. It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s Knute Rockne era, when the stadium was built.
While the stadium has undergone a number of renovations over the years, parts of the venue had suffered from poor sound coverage. As Brian McCullagh of ESCO Communications in Indianapolis explains, it was those areas that recently received attention.
“Fans in the main seating areas were covered, but the upper and lower concourses had no loudspeakers at all,” says McCullagh. “So when folks got up to visit the concession stands, for example, they wouldn’t really be able to hear the announcements over the noise of the crowd.”
The system, designed by WJHW of Dallas and installed by ESCO, comprises more than 100 Community Professional R-Series loudspeakers, covering both concourse levels. “We also replaced the older speakers at the entry way with R.5s,” says McCullagh.
The distributed system includes multiple zones of R.5 and R.25 loudspeakers, all driven by Crown Audio power amplification. “The different zones can be run separately, so we can play a greeting message at the entry gates, while there’s music or play-by-play announcements running inside the park,” says McCullagh.
Of course, while missing general announcements can be an inconvenience, it can become even more critical where safety announcements are concerned. And as McCullagh observes, the system underwent its first critical test almost immediately.
“During the very first game of the season - which was also the first game for the new speaker system - we had some severe storms coming through the area, and it was the first time they actually had to implement the evacuation plan,” he says. “Most of the fans waited out the storm under the covered concourse area. It was an ideal opportunity for us to test out the system under real-world conditions, and we were able to observe the sound relative to the crowds and adjust the output levels accordingly. Later in the game we had a second storm and evacuation, and the system performed flawlessly, with all the intelligibility we expected from Community.”
Aside from Intelligibility, McCullagh points to the R-Series’ weather resistance as another factor in its selection. “The Community product is known for its weather resistance, and this is an area that puts it to the test” he observes. “The upper concourse system is pretty much fully exposed to the elements - it’s a covered area, so they don’t get rained on directly, but they’re exposed to plenty of humidity, lots of wind, rain and snow, and temperature extremes ranging from the 100s in August to sub-zero teens in winter.”
McCullagh credits WJHW with selecting the Community loudspeakers and also points out that “the owners of the stadium gave their input, and they were in total agreement on the R-Series. They’ve got some R2 systems covering a number of the outdoor sporting areas elsewhere on campus, and they’ve proven over the years to be exceptionally durable.”