From the moment you enter Cheney Stadium, you are surrounded by improvements in every aspect of the ballpark. Like all the new amenities in the stadium, you can tell there's a significant quality change in the sound system as well. It's a completely new sound design and system. Whether you're standing in the concessions area getting a hotdog or you're in one of the brand new seats in the stadium or in one of the new seating terraces, the sound system quality is undeniably first-rate! The richness in the system makes one feel like they're never away from the green grass and rich clay dirt of the infield.
The City of Tacoma, which owns Cheney Stadium, embarked on a $30 million dollar renovation to the stadium. Ron Simonson, President and CEO for CCI Solutions, recalls CCI Solutions' initial involvement in the project, "The city issued an Request For Proposal (RFP) for a sound system package which involved the Design and Implementation for the project. The CCI Solutions Engineering Team, including Jon Garrison and Steve Lund, created design concepts along with a couple of our key vendor partners." Greg Hearns, CCI Solutions' consultant for the project, contacted Mortenson Construction and their designers and eventually coordinated with Valley Electric regarding the scope of the project. Greg, who has worked on multiple projects in the past with the City of Tacoma, was able to discuss the budgetary needs of the project and provide the quality design a venue of this level deserves.
"We first proposed a high power center field speaker system. We felt this approach would give us the most consistent distribution of sound in the seating area," said Simonson. One of the factors that is unique about Cheney Stadium is that in addition to the normal box seats, there is a four-tiered party patio off the left field side to accommodate large group functions and parties. In the right field section there is a large grass terrace (Alaska Airlines Terrace). Simonson continues, "There aren't any structures behind any of these areas to put speakers. A distributed speaker design was also discussed and the team preferred the distributed sound concept like the system we designed and installed for Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners. " The Safeco Field system has been producing major league sound for 12 years since Safeco opened in 1999. Everyone at Safeco was happy with that system as it has withstood salt air and the harsh winter conditions of Seattle. It has performed outstanding with great intelligibly and clarity.
The system at Safeco is designed with JBL speakers so CCI Solutions approached the JBL team again to partner on this project. The team at CCI Solutions worked with JBL to create custom fabricated weatherproof speakers for the main bowl seating area. Crown amplifiers and BSS Processors were also utilized making it a total Harman project.
A Team Approach
As is usual with large venue projects, CCI Solutions had to do extensive project coordination in a very tight time frame. By the time the city issued the RFP and made their decision, the project was well under construction. The CCI Solutions team stepped up-to-the-plate, with proactive involvement, anticipating and solving issues with the rest of the contracting team.
"Valley Electric was proactive and great to work with. They were great on the site from a project management standpoint as was General Contractor, Mortenson. There was a great team attitude going into this. Everyone knew there was a tight timeline and the first pitch on opening day would come very soon," said Ron Simonson. There was no alternative, the project had to be done on time.
Reflecting on the subject, Simonson recalls, "It all went in great and on time. The team is extremely happy with the high quality of sound throughout the ballpark. Mortenson and Valley Electric were fantastic to deal with working through all the details and unforeseen circumstances that come up in a build of this magnitude."
Something for Everyone
In "The Biz of Baseball" article by Maury Brown, he writes "This project goes so far beyond the Tacoma Rainiers," Rainiers Team President Aaron Artman said. "A renovated Cheney Stadium will become a landmark and source of pride for the community. It speaks to a ton of hard work and a deep partnership between the Cheney Foundation, The City of Tacoma, Pierce County and the team." It includes something for everyone with plans for a redesigned, covered concourse, a right field grass berm with an attached children's play area, new bleachers beyond the left field wall, 300 club seats behind home plate, a 5,000 square foot summit club/restaurant, and 16 luxury suites. CCI Solutions included a separate sound system for the Summit Club for corporate event rentals.
The sound provided by CCI Solutions in the stadium includes speakers in the main seating area and adjacent seating terraces on each sides of the outfield. The sound is consistent from seat to seat, patrons are raving about the sound clarity and musicality of the system. CCI Solutions also provided the sound for the concessions area, restrooms and the 16 luxury suites behind home plate. There are over 50 speakers in the fan seating areas, including the terraces. The suites, player locker rooms, weight rooms, training rooms, umpire dressing areas, administration offices, restrooms, and security areas have over 150 speakers, giving every area of the ballpark a "close to the game feel." For sound in the suites, owners can choose between the PA system, background music, cable TV or laptop feed directly to the in-suite video display.
That's the beauty of this venue. We're able to offer fans new and improved amenities, from luxury suites and a new club to more concessions and restrooms," Artman added. "At the same time, coming to a game will remain very affordable so everybody in the community can experience what is sure to be one of the crown jewels of stadiums in the country."
While the old Cheney Stadium was great, and a place filled with nostalgia, the renovated stadium still has the same, intimate feel with all the modern amenities needed to attract new fans while giving the Rainiers a up-to-date work environment. The job done over the winter was truly remarkable, and the result was a beautiful ballpark residents of Western Washington can be proud of.