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Friday, August 2, 2002 - 12:00 a.m. Pacific
Material on this page was published when Seahawks Stadium, now called Qwest Field, opened in 2002.
Construction & design

Stadium A.V.: Audible to a power play

The "audio-visual control room" is where all of the sight-an-sound magic at Seahawks Stadium is created. From left are director Jim Waliser, producer Rick Crawford and replay operator Tim Simmons.
By Bud Withers
Seattle Times staff reporter

Standing inside the control room at Seahawks Stadium, Mike Wacker sometimes gets an eerie feeling that he's back at the Kingdome. It was, after all, in the same southwest corner of the late, unlamented facility that he began his job as director of broadcasting with the club. But that was then, and this is now. It's open air out there and serious sound and video.

"Paul Allen and his associated companies have a lot of muscle to bring to the product," Wacker said. "We've had a design group of six to eight people that have worked together as a team that's kind of on the leading edge."

In the future, fans will be served at seats

It's not possible yet, but a system is in place at Seahawks Stadium that will eventually allow fans to use credit cards to order concessions from their seats.

"We put provisions in place to allow for in-seat service," said Tom Chiado, assistant project manager for the stadium. "But we're going to look at it for several years before moving on it."

In the future, after seated fans place an order on a touch screen, concessions will be transported directly to them via a conduit system.

The space-age idea is just that, for now. But the infrastructure necessary to carry out the idea is in place.

Cecil Cross II

If there's any aspect in which an Allen-generated stadium might stand above the rest, it would figure to be the audio and video systems. So Wacker has some clout behind his statement that "we're able to produce a show unparalleled in the league."

Video boards sit at the north and south ends. The one at the north has a vertical configuration 42 feet wide by 48 feet high to blend into a "tower" effect rather than a wall that would obstruct the view toward downtown.

The south-end board is 25 feet high and 84 feet wide. Between the two, they provide several times the video space that was viewable in the Hawks' temporary home at Husky Stadium.

There are also four "hustle" boards, two at each end, that show running totals like rushing and passing yardage. Two were recycled from the Kingdome.

And there are 841 television sets throughout the stadium, 80 flat-screen plasma TVs and four large display-board screens.

During replay challenges, Wacker and his staff have to adhere to an NFL rule of showing fans only shots that the NFL is showing. They also have to hew to legislation that bans video and audio messages exhorting the home team's defense.

He points out there's no restriction on showing the inevitable fans holding up a "D" and a "fence" and says, "Our director always wants to know where they are."

In the audio booth, show mixer Fred Micera handles the sound at the stadium.
The audio system also should be cutting edge, although Wacker points out, "Until you put bodies in here that absorb sound, you don't know what the thing is going to sound like."

If it doesn't sound good, it'll be the first upset at the new stadium.

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