4-1-Forum: A Different Animal

 

“The art of stadium building… it’s a true art!”

Erik Carlson, Parsons Technologies Project Manager, continued his assessment.

“Stadiums are way different than hospitals and data centers. The schedules are tighter. They’re just different animals than other projects.”

The Milwaukee Bucks arena is one of those “different animals.” Its official name is “Fiserv Forum,” but locals call it the 4-1-Forum, after the local Milwaukee 414 area code. The arena seats 17,500 and carried a price tag of $524 Million. Parsons Technologies was engaged by Johnson Controls to provide the AV technology infrastructure for the “front of house” and all of the AV fabrication and installation for the “back of house.”  Parsons Technologies also was hired by Deer District LLC (Bucks ownership) to design and install all of the arena event lighting. Think programmable spotlights, lasers and anything else that makes you say, “Wow! How did they do that?”

“Front of house” refers to the main bowl where the event takes place. Here, Parsons Technologies, under the project management of Erik Carlson, installed the network of signal paths that send picture and sound from anywhere in the bowl to practically anywhere else. That path starts with 54 broadcast boxes throughout the arena, with an average of 80 signal inputs per box. The boxes are the point of connection for the multitude of camera, audio and data feeds needed to cover a modern sporting or entertainment event. From the broadcast boxes Technologies pulled 256,665 feet of signal cable to various points inside and outside the arena. The primary terminus is the truck dock where television network production trucks full of video monitors, switchers and recorders are connected to the arena.  In essence, they tap into the building’s nervous system. That 256,000 feet of cable equates to 48.6 miles; laid end to end, it would stretch from Fridley to Taylors Falls.Milwaukee Bucks

The AV infrastructure for the arena was designed and specified by Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams, Inc. WJHW is responsible for fully 50% of the stadiums and arenas built in the U.S., including Minnesota venues Target Center, Target Field and US Bank Stadium. Johnson Controls was Parsons Technologies direct client, and Mortenson was the General Contractor. The Project Manager representing ownership on the Fiserv Forum build was ICON Venue Group.

“We’ve got a great relationship with ICON,” added Erik. “We worked with them on the Warriors arena in San Francisco and the Penguins arena in Pittsburgh. And with Mortenson, we’ve got great history with them, too.”

Then Erik explained what “back-of-house” means. “Back-of-house is any arena area that isn’t the main bowl: clubs, suites, concourses, bathrooms, restaurants. If it gets picture or sound, we installed it.” Parsons Technologies built out AV equipment racks at a prefabrication facility set up specifically for this job. Components were installed, wired, programmed, tested and shipped as complete tested units. The result was a major build that was completed and commissioned on time. And a first season of Bucks basketball without technical issues where everything functioning as designed.

“The owners are happy, the fans are happy, ICON is happy, the GC is happy… that’s the end goal of every arena build,” added Erik.

When asked about special challenges encountered and overcome, Erik responded with what you’d expect from someone with 29 stadium jobs under his belt. “We still get surprises, but they’re pretty few and far between. There’s not much we haven’t seen.” Then he went on to recognize the field leadership with boots on the ground in Milwaukee.

“The field leaders make it happen. Lead Foreman Scott Dorner, Foreman Ben Smith and Senior Systems Specialist Alaun Pederson provided the great planning and great leadership that made this a Parsons job. They plan so far in advance and have done this so many times before, surprises are rare. Parsons jobs feel like Parsons jobs no matter where they happen, even with different subs, because of field leadership. They look like a 100% Parsons job. Consistency is key.”

4-1-ForumParsons field leaders work with local trade partners to help them understand and deliver Parsons quality and value. “At the end of the day, our trade partners are better for having worked with Parsons. They would never be exposed to the experience without Parsons field leadership.” Another example of Enriching Lives, and not one that many of us think about. Erik summed it up. “This leadership group is second-to-none.”

In the end, a stadium project with no drama, no excitement, nothing newsworthy. Happy owners, happy clients, happy fans. Just another example of Parsons understanding of value and commitment to deliver it. Totally unremarkable.

Which, when you think about it, is pretty remarkable.

Remarkably unremarkable.

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