CABLING: Sports complex sports fiber and Cat 5E cabling systems

A sports and entertainment complex incorporates a sophisticated, high-capacity structured cabling system.

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A sports and entertainment complex incorporates a sophisticated, high-capacity structured cabling system.

Arlene Franchini / Ortronics Inc.
Carol Everett Oliver / Everett Communications

Los Angeles prides itself on being the address of what's new and what's next," says Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan, referring to the upcoming Democratic Convention-the first in the century to be held at the newly constructed Staples Center in Los Angeles. The world-class design of this facility allowed it to be chosen for this major event as well as other events such as the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the year 2002.

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The stadium floor in the Staples Center, under construction, shows the intricate piping system for future ice sports and events.

The Staples Center incorporates the best features of the newest generation of sports and entertainment facilities, including numerous innovations of its own. The 900,000-sq-ft complex features a seating capacity of 21,000, five concourses, 24 refreshment stands, 176 deluxe suites, and a 500-seat Arena Club restaurant and bar. Behind the scenes, there is a 15,000-sq-ft marshaling area, access for six television trucks, and exclusive locker rooms for the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers basketball teams and Los Angeles Kings hockey team.

More than a pretty facade

But more than just a pretty facade, this complex encompasses the newest cabling infrastructure installed behind the walls of a megacomplex and has been named the most technically advanced arena in the country. The advanced cabling infrastructure includes a fiber-optic backbone and an Enhanced Category 5 (5E) horizontal system. Ortronics supplied the high-capacity, high-performance end-to-end structured cabling system for high-speed fiber and copper applications. Capabilities include high-bandwidth voice, video, and data applications to the offices, press rooms, and all points-of-purchase, as well as unique consumer services such as online banking, ATMs, a telecommunications access center, an eight-sided center display video/scoreboard, and a large digital video screen.

In addition to the five-concourse-level stadium, the complex includes a seven-story business center that will house administrative personnel, team managers, staff members, and conference rooms. These offices will be responsible for day-to-day operations as well as planning for the estimated 230 annual events. These departments handle everything from customer information calls to detailed accounting of every concession stand. All are handled through the advanced networking installed in this facility, which keeps track of every bit and byte through its voice and data capabilities.

"You can imagine the conduit system that was installed for this facility, not only for voice, video, and data lines but for parallel electrical lines, as well," says Aram Lewis, project manager for Semans Communications Inc. (San Carlos, CA), the company selected to install the cabling and associated hardware. "Once the walls became enclosed, we had to ensure we had enough voice, video, and data capabilities to handle needs not only for today but through the year 2020," he adds. "That's saying a lot for our scorecard."

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The fiber-optic backbone allows high-density, high-bandwidth applications to be transported at high speed between the crossconnect closets and out to off-site locations in the future. The backbone cable is spliced and terminated to Ortronics ORMMAC 72-port fiber distribution cabinets and then to the main server in the main crossconnect.

Lewis and the communications experts at Semans patterned the basic cable design of the Staples Center after their most recent success at a major PacBell location in Southern California. "We had just completed an immense installation at PacBell, and we fashioned many of the office requirements needed at the Staples Center after those at the PacBell facility [San Ramon, CA]," says Lewis. "Of course, Staples presented itself with unique applications such as press phones, concession stands, ATMs, and even wireless remote control of on-the-floor concessionaires," he adds.

All the concession-stand cash registers are terminated into the main server. "This was not in the original plans and had to be taken into consideration after the fact to make sure that there was enough cabling and bandwidth," states Lewis. "But with the flexible system and foresight, we certainly provided enough cable and connection for this site." In addition, all point-of-purchase items are tied into the servers.

"Another unique application for the concession stands at Staples Center is the remote-control antennas for automated concession ordering," adds Lewis. "There will be concession-stand employees who will take food orders in the suites. They will send in the orders through a wireless system transmitted to a receiver utilizing Category 5E. This is a first for an entertainment facility and a first for us," he further notes. "We had to make sure that we covered all these bases when selecting the system and related products for this extensive list of applications."

The installation

Semans, an Ortronics certified-plus installer, was selected as the designer, installer, and supplier of the cabling plant and communications equipment, because the company could provide an efficient cabling infrastructure in a timely manner. "Semans has the staff and resources available for today's jobs and the capability to examine a client's needs for the future. At the same time, we find the quickest and most economical route for a project," says Jeff Randall, sales engineer for Semans.

"We carefully selected vendors that could not only provide state-of-the art systems for today's high-speed applications, but also those whose products are built to grow as more complex applications arise," explains Randall. Semans specified a fiber-optic backbone with a Category 5E system to the workstation outlets for voice and data. The end-to-end high-performance, high-capacity system includes Category 5E cable and connectivity components for the one main crossconnect (MC) and 32 intermediate crossconnect (IC) closets.

The fiber-optic backbone allows high-density, high-bandwidth applications to be transported at high speed between the crossconnect closets and out to off-site locations in the future. The backbone cable is spliced and terminated to Ortronics ORMMAC 72-port fiber distribution cabinets and then to the main server in the MC. From there, the fiber-optic cable connects each IC to 48-port ORMMACs within the 32 IC closets. There are a total of 760 multimode connections and 380 singlemode connections in the fiber backbone to allow for today's and tomorrow's applications.

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For the internal phone system, PacBell provided the main connection to the main crossconnect. From there, the phone lines run over Category 5E and are terminated to the 300- and 900-pair 110 terminal block kits in each intermediate crossconnect.

In each IC, Category 5E cable is terminated to Category 5E patch panels for the horizontal cabling. "To keep the patch cords neat and organized, Ortronics also supplied the finger duct cable-management panels. This simultaneously organizes the patch cords on a relay rack and allows easier moves, adds, and changes," points out Mark Travers, senior regional manager. To each workstation, there are three pairs of Category 5E cable, which total 23,000 pairs to be terminated.

For the internal phone system, PacBell provided the main connection to the MC. From there, the phone lines run over Category 5E and are terminated to the Ortronics' 300- and 900-pair 110 terminal block kits in each IC. PacBell is also offering wireless phones to each season ticket-holder. On-site high-speed Internet connections through the advanced cabling system is also available.

Ortronics TracJack workstation outlets are installed at the end-user locations throughout the facility. This outlet offers snap-in modules to allow combinations of up to six ports for voice and data applications. Typical outlets contained three to six single-gang RJ-45 connections on each outlet. But in some instances, two blanks were available for future fiber applications. Proper labeling and standard 606 color-coding is also a key in troubleshooting and for moves, adds, and changes over the lifecycle of the system. Each patch panel has easy identification and TIA/EIA-606 standard labeling that matched the labeling at the workstation outlet.

Six-month project

The entire construction job took 18 months from start to finish, and that included demolishing the original Los Angeles Convention Center's North Hall to make room for this superstructure. "One major roadblock was an accidental fire on the roof during the framing stages that was caused by an extension cord," says Lewis. "Luckily, nobody was hurt, and even more to our advantage, the conduit or the wiring had not yet been placed."

Cabling the complex from backbone to the workstation took six months. "For the amount of cable runs and outlets and unique applications, the cabling infrastructure was installed smoothly. We knew that once the design was in place, it was just a matter of timing-getting the right products and lining up the installation scheduling. Everything else fell into place like clockwork," explains Lewis.

"Of course, we didn't walk away when the last connection was made. We will provide on-site personnel to make sure that everything is up and running. And, who knows: Maybe we can catch a glimpse of some events in the process," Lewis concludes.

"Staples Center will be the entertainment capitol of the entertainment capital. More than just a building, it will capture the residents' hearts and become a symbol for Los Angeles in the 21st century," says Thomas J. Leiweke, executive vice president of the L.A. Arena Co. and president of the Los Angeles Kings. "Staples Inc. shares our vision for this world-class facility as the ultimate in sports and entertainment facilities and shares our commitment to the community that the building serve as a catalyst for downtown revitalization."

Arlene Franchini is director of communications and public relations for Ortronics Inc. (New London, CT), and Carol Everett Oliver is a freelance writer and editor for the company.

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