James Madison University Atlantic Union Bank Center

The Atlantic Union Bank Center, which opened in fall 2020, ushers in a new era of JMU basketball, women’s indoor sports and numerous other university and community events, such as commencement, concerts, trade shows and more. To meet the high-speed needs of students and fans, the university had planned for a commercial ISP to support the arena’s Wi-Fi network, but the price came in substantially over budget. That’s when MSB put the pedal to the metal and found a more economical way to serve the high-capacity needs of the venue.

MSB originally searched for a way to tie the arena to the wireless network on campus but found this solution would put a strain on the IT staff and could potentially create issues with campus network security. Instead, MSB reached out to Apogee, the managed services technology partner currently providing internet ISP and cable television to JMU’s dormitories. The MSB and Apogee teams discovered Apogee’s backhaul could connect its server across the campus via fiber cabling, enabling the university to deploy sophisticated infrastructure while minimizing costs and complexity.

MSB spent an extensive period of time engineering a network design to fit the university’s budget and achieve its objective of reliable, first-class wireless coverage for students and public guests of the new arena. In the process of identifying a solution, updating the contract and negotiating the network expansion with Apogee, MSB determined that JMU could upgrade their planned Wi-Fi 5 network to next-generation Wi-Fi 6 design, future-proofing the arena’s Wi-Fi network for the same cost called for in the contract. As a result, the Wi-Fi system is now able to achieve greater coverage and faster speed for streaming video, voice calls, internet, and wireless ticketing.

The process put their project two to three months behind schedule, but opening day didn’t change. MSB completed the entire network installation, from build out to commissioning, in just under two months to meet the contract deadline.

MSB provided drafting and design, technical consulting, vendor coordination, project controls and construction, and project management for the project. MSB will be on site supporting seamless Wi-Fi coverage when fans step into their brand-new arena at full capacity and will provide ongoing maintenance and technical support to continue to achieve seamless coverage to meet their wireless demands.

Liberty University

Liberty is the largest university in Virginia and has a record of being tech-forward and implementing one of the most progressive on-campus Wi-Fi and mobile strategies in education today.  Already staffed with a sophisticated IT department, Liberty chose to hire the M S Benbow team for their deep and broad experience in implementing Aruba HD Wi-Fi networks in large public venues that must support massive event-day peaks in demand.

MSB was responsible for designing a cutting-edge converged wireless network that provided a rich and engaging fan experience for the larger crowds now expected at the Liberty Flames football games.  This massive design and build project was completed in less than a year and features:

  • High-definition streaming video and Wi-Fi calling for 25,000 spectators.
  • Future expansion and deployments such as location-based services to further enhance the fan experience.
  • Planned integration of all 11 of the university’s large public venues, including baseball and softball fields, an indoor track, and a natatorium.

The move to Division I football represented a heightened opportunity for Liberty University: high performance, high risk, high visibility and high payoff.  In developing this high-technology venue, Liberty ignited their sports fans, empowered their students, and positioned Williams Stadium as a sought-after venue for events of all kinds.  Using sophisticated technology as a brand differentiator in the 21st century is a winning strategy in Division 1 and beyond!

TechTalk: How WeConnect Fans, Teams, Owners and Venues.

MSB responded to Liberty’s need for blazing speed and network upgrades. MSB created a system that was efficient to construct and adaptive to future technologies.  A perfect and innovative example is the 624 under-seat wireless access points that deliver a distributed, strong Wi-Fi signal throughout Williams Stadium while remaining virtually invisible to fans and students.  MSB’s design also accounted for the University’s investment in existing infrastructure, seamlessly integrating and leveraging legacy systems and investments. Project management was a critical component to the project’s success in tandem with hardware integration testing, commissioning, and optimization.

Chase Center

Chase Center currently boasts an 18,064-seat sports and entertainment arena, 100,000 square feet of retail and food and beverage space, and 580,000 square feet of office space in two buildings.

Designed and built by M S Benbow leveraging technology from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, the converged network represents a new standard of excellence for both arena visitors and owners/operators. But MSB didn’t just build today’s state-of-the-art network: Chase Center is designed to anticipate and integrate new emerging technologies. Here are just a few innovations involved in creating this cutting-edge, high-performance, high-density wireless and converged network:

  • Nation’s first arena under-seat antenna deployment, which enables the highest density of capacity in network architecture while greatly streamlining maintenance
  • Wayfinding technology that leverages Bluetooth architecture that engages visitors from the moment they arrive for an optimal experience
  • Kiosk ordering for concession areas to boost sales and reduce customer wait times
  • Top-of-the-line security allowing coaches and players to communicate without interference
  • Support for sophisticated location-aware marketing strategies
  • Broad-based suite of network services to support building operations, from sound and lighting control, to A/C and physical security.

Technology experts would marvel at the complexity of this converged network solution and its elegant integration of core networks, switches and routers, firewalls, and extremely diverse hardware and appliances. The bigger story is how this synchronized network removes the distance between Chase Center’s owners and visitors – allowing for a seamless exchange of value in this extraordinary and beautiful new San Francisco landmark.

The timeline on the implementation phase of the project – 6 months from start to completion – posed almost as big a challenge as the technology. The opening weekend the San Francisco Symphony and Metallica were set to entertain 18,000 fans at the Chase Center’s inaugural event, and in fact, the show did go on!

TechTalk:  How We Connect Fans, Teams, Owners and Venues

Our goal was the deployment of a best-in-class high density wireless network with a robust, converged wired network at the largest and most complex venue technology project of its kind in scope, size and network capability. MSB provided engineering, project management, construction and programming services for the fully integrated converged network system providing seamless connectivity to Golden State Warriors and Chase Center guests. In addition, MSB interfaced with more than 30 different stakeholders from the Architects to General Contractors.

The network hosts a 20-GB fiber-linked network providing enough bandwidth to support high-volume multi-media guest experiences and location services throughout the venue and surrounding 11-acre district.

MSB’s innovative design solution for the converged network system included using 1,728-strand fibers to maximize capability and support new technologies including approximately 750 upcoming Wi-Fi 6 access points (APs) and 280 switches. In all, the network infrastructure boasts 600 miles of fiber optic cable for the network backbone, 300 miles of copper cable and 30 network closets to support all systems and applications requiring IP data connectivity, including Voice over IP (VoIP)-enabled wireless, cellular DAS, HD streaming and audio operations.

Services Provided

  • RF & Network Design
  • Technology Consulting
  • UPS Power System Design and Implementation
  • MDF / IDF Equipment Layouts
  • Project Management
  • Construction Management
  • Network Integration Services for all Building Operations & Vendor Sub-systems
  • RF Tune / Optimization
  • Network Redundancy / Fall-Over Testing
  • Live Event Support
  • Remote Event Support
  • Remote Network Monitoring
  • System Maintenance