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October 18, 2021   

A Historic Stadium for Modern Times

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How Lambeau Field evaluated, selected, and implemented a state-of-the-art lighting controls system

 

GREEN BAY, WI – It’s 7:00 pm Central Time. The teams are warming up on the field, the announcers are speaking into the camera and it’s time for the NFL game of the week. Nothing can go wrong in front of 80,000 Green Bay Packers fans and a national television audience of millions.

The talented players who have called the legendary Lambeau Field home know the pressure of gameday, and they often perform well under it. The same can be said for a less celebrated team at Lambeau, the Facilities team. In the not-so-recent past, it was the unsung heroes in the facilities department who were tasked with patching together and operating a dozen separate, aging lighting systems at the stadium to provide a reliable and seamless experience for everyone on the field, roaming the concourse, in the press box, and in the suites. 

The Lambeau Legacy
Lambeau Field was built in 1957 with a seating capacity of 32,500. Through a series of renovations and additions, the stadium has grown to become the fifth largest in the NFL with a capacity of over 81,000. The more recent expansions involved adding chunks of interior square footage to the large atrium, numerous suites, spacious press box, and other specialized event areas. 

The lighting control requirements for all areas vary depending on the kickoff times – noon, 3:00 pm, or night games. And if a national recording artist is performing a concert, that requires a different lighting scheme altogether.

As Lambeau Field has accumulated more seats and square footage over the years, the tally of disparate, non-compatible lighting systems has also grown to become a management and coordination challenge. There was concern, too, that one of the larger legacy systems might be a security risk as it was operated from an “always-on” computer with a software program that dates back to the early 2000s.

The Green Bay Packers tasked Anne Larson from its Facilities team to spearhead the project to replace numerous disparate lighting systems with one, high-quality, seamless system that could meet the demands of a modern stadium while clearing the high bar of technical requirements set by the NFL.

Vetting Process
Larson’s initial list of potential lighting systems providers had 27 names on it. Similar to the bracketed NFL playoffs, there were six final contenders asked to quote the project.

Then four companies were invited on-site for a capabilities presentation. That led to two finalists. And then one selection – Crestron Electronics.

Why Crestron?
Crestron, a company that might be best known for its commercial AV products, launched its first lighting product family in 1986. Since then, the company has quietly compiled an impressive list of large-scale lighting system projects including numerous stadia and arenas. Larson informed us that one of the ways she vetted Crestron was through contacting the facilities team at Wrigley Field in Chicago, who provided her with a favorable testimonial of the Crestron system at that legendary ballpark.

Many of the advanced features required for the Lambeau Field project included:

  • Scalability
  • Astronomical and fixed time-of-day scheduling
  • Integration with a precision-timed, automated theatrical exhibit in the Packers Hall of Fame auditorium
  • Modern, intuitive wall controls
  • Advanced partition algorithms
  • DMX-512 interface to control the dynamic lighting in many areas including the impressive and enormous color-changing “Hat Wall” in the Pro Shop.
  • Highly capable and easy to use software
  • A litany of security features

Security of the Lighting System
One of the critical features that Larson emphasized about the recently installed Crestron system was the need for it to include security features that met the stringent security standards of the NFL. The facility required the new system to have many features including Active Directory Integration (ADI) and multi-factor authentication for remote log-ons. 

Considering Crestron’s long history of providing complex AV and lighting systems for government, banking, and big business, the company is well versed and highly competent in meeting tough security requirements. Like their AV systems, Crestron’s lighting systems, including Zūm, are on the leading edge of the everchanging IT security landscape.

Comments From Lambeau Facilities
Larson explains that since the completion of the Crestron installation in early mid-2021, the Lambeau Field staff has been “extremely pleased” with the functionality of the lighting system. The system has the “flexibility to customize and modify lighting on the fly without calling someone for assistance” like the team occasionally had to do in the past. She added that “user-friendly scheduling was such an important factor” because in the past, staff would be bogged down with hours-long reprogramming efforts for special events. 

From an installation and implementation standpoint, Larson is “just thrilled service-wise” as Crestron deployed teams to Northern Wisconsin to oversee the electrical contractor’s installation and to be on-site for the first five home games under the new controls system.

Sports fans often cite Lambeau Field as a must-visit, “bucket list” experience. First-time visitors are encouraged to enjoy the blend of modern amenities and rich tradition by visiting the amazing Packers Hall of Fame, the enormous Pro Shop and the delightful 1919 Kitchen & Tap. And when you visit Lambeau Field, don’t forget to look for the slick Crestron keypads on the wall.

 

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