SBJ/October 3 - 9, 2005/Facilities

Bobcats say arena will have some sound improvements

The Charlotte Bobcats think they have accomplished their goal of building a new sports facility that allows basketball fans to clearly distinguish between the three primary sources of high-volume noise at NBA games, said Barry Silberman, the team’s executive vice president of arena development, operations and entertainment.

“The main challenge for a sound system in a sports arena environment is when you have a full house cheering, the music’s pumped up and the public address announcer is talking — all at the same time,” Silberman said.

The Bobcats have been testing the sound system, designed by Dallas-based PMK Consultants, in the building while preparing for the team’s Nov. 5 home opener. The Rolling Stones open the arena Oct. 21.

Hear here: The Bobcats say the sound system at their arena will come through loud and clear.
The Bobcats opted for a design that distributed speakers throughout the arena instead of installing a centralized system on the center-hung scoreboard, said Doug Brown, Ellerbe Becket’s lead designer on the project.

The team also decided to build suites without glass doors or windows facing the seating bowl so that sounds are absorbed into those premium areas and don’t “bounce back and forth” in the facility, Brown said.

“Hard surfaces are the enemy of good-quality sound,” Silberman said.

Brown said glass enclosures are being phased out of suite design as teams and facilities discover that premium patrons prefer the open-air atmosphere.

The Bobcats made those adjustments and stayed within the arena’s $265 million budget, Silberman said.

CENTERPLATE CEO ON THE ROAD: Centerplate’s new chairman and CEO, Paul MacPhail, didn’t waste time getting acquainted with some of the concessionaire’s 18 major league clients after taking the job in early September, unlike his predecessor.

Less than two weeks after the firm announced his appointment, MacPhail attended the Denver Broncos’ home opener at Invesco Field at Mile High, introducing himself to officials with the NFL team and Centerplate employees working at the stadium.

Facility managers at sports venues where Centerplate has the food contracts and the company’s on-site managers acknowledged that Larry Honig, the firm’s former CEO, spent little if any time visiting them from the time he took the job in 2002 until the company’s board asked him to leave earlier this year for conduct unrelated to company business.

That was a mistake, they said, because it’s important for even the highest-ranked executives to meet face-to-face with their clients in an industry that values long-term relationships.

Traveling to Centerplate accounts on both coasts was on his list of things to do in the coming weeks, MacPhail said.

“I’ve got a 100-day plan that incorporates visiting as many key accounts as possible,” MacPhail said.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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