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.

Prudential Center – World’s Largest In-Arena Scoreboard

Prudential Center

Parsons Technologies served as the general contractor for the construction of the world’s largest in-arena scoreboard at Prudential Center (as of September 2017), home of the New Jersey Devils. The scoreboard measures 60’x60’x38’ –– three times the size of the average single family home in New Jersey with a square footage of 9,584.9 feet. The giant Translux video screens are the equivalent of 1,300 50-inch televisions, made up of over 29 million pixels. Installation at Prudential Center also included two levels of ribbon board around the arena. 

Prudential Center Scoreboard

As a major arena for the area, Prudential Center had a number of major scheduled events in the Devils’ offseason, limiting the production and installation schedule to just two months onsite at the arena. The construction team for the remodel had to work around these functions scheduling work on the Translux scoreboard installation, as well as ribbon scoreboard installation around load-in, sound check, the event dates themselves, and tear-down of the events, which spanned from one to four days at a time.

Scoreboard Installation

Parsons Technologies operated as a general contractor for this project, coordinating tear-down of the old arena scoreboard and ribbon boards, construction and installation of the new electronics to meet budget and scope of the project. Parsons Technologies contracted with Mountain Productions to remove the old scoreboard and ribbons while Eastern Sign Tech worked to build the framework for the new record-breaking scoreboard display.

The framework was constructed offsite, dismantled and brought onsite for installation, allowing the team to keep the construction and testing schedule while working around scheduled events taking place in the arena. Once onsite, Mehl Electric handled all electrical wiring and installation of the unit.

With only two months to complete the project, the team pulled off a construction feat in time for the major reveal late September. This was largely due in part to managing multiple stages of the project simultaneously, including prefabricating the frame of the assembly based on external dimensions taken at the site while the VDC (Virtual Design and Construction) and engineering team completed their work on the final design of the internal wiring.

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Sanford Health’s “Cully’s Cabin” Completed

Cully’s Cabin, a 3,000 sq. ft. children’s area within Sanford Medical Center, opened on Monday, June 19th. 

It is the vision of Matt and Bridget Cullen. The couple founded the Cullen Children’s Foundation in 2003 and Cully’s Cabin is Cully's Cabin is part of the Cullen Children's Foundationpart of the foundation’s work to improve children’s quality of life and provide resources to organizations that support healthcare needs with an emphasis on cancer.

Within the space are arcade games, PlayStation 4, and comfy couches and chairs. Having space for the children to be children was important to the Cullens and their hope is that it will help the children enjoy time with their families while dealing with tough stuff.

Parsons’ subsidiary, MEI, who was part of the project team to deliver the Sanford Medical Center was also involved in the project. Our scope included power, data, audio/visual, and access control. We are proud to be a part of the project team to help deliver on the Cullen’s vision and dream to support children and teens as they work toward healing.