SOLUTIONS: VICARAGE ROAD, WATFORD UNITED KINGDOM Hornets’ new nest [INSTALLED]
Vicarage Road has been the home of Watford Football Club since 1922, and also hosts Saracens Rugby Club
A new audio system is providing this historic football stadium with improved sound for match days and more, writes Tom Bradbury
FOR FANS of a football club, few sporting venues can match the excitement of your home ground, and Vicarage Road – home of Watford FC, nicknamed The Hornets – is no exception.
Of course, with thousands
of fans attending week in, week out, it is important for venues like this to have an audio system that is suitable not only for announcements relating to games and team matters, but also one that complies with all relevant standards and legislation relating to mass-notification and voice alarm in sports venues. However, in recent years
the existing PA system at the 19,900-capacity Vicarage Road football ground was becoming unreliable and there was doubt as to whether it could perform as expected in the event of a public emergency. In compliance with the Green Guide and building regulations, an annual safety
review of the audio system for life safety was carried out by Watford FC and Sennheiser UK. It was this review that established the need for an extensive upgrade. It was necessary to supply
a system that provides sufficient coverage for the ground, improving the audio performance in the bowl area (the pitch and stands) for sports presentation. However, the system also had to be flexible and powerful enough to supplement any non-sporting live events held in the ground, such as concerts by lifelong Watford fan Sir Elton John, to cite a recent example. Another stipulation was that the system needed to be installed during the football and rugby season (the ground is also home to Saracens Rugby Club) and around the venue’s many conferences and events. Watford called in respected
system designer Roland Hemming of RH Consulting,
who worked with Sennheiser UK to specify a system that could cope with every eventuality.
Hemming’s solution comprises a combination of D.A.S. Audio Rf series loudspeakers for the bowl and D.A.S. Arco for the under balcony and bar areas, all of which were specifically modified for the project. A total of 162 Apart loudspeakers – 16 ceiling speakers and 146 sound projectors – were supplied for many of the back-of-house areas. Sennheiser’s ew500 G3 Series covers radio microphone requirements. In total, the system uses over 200 loudspeakers and is split into 20 zones. The new bowl system
covers three of the four stands, with the East Stand left unchanged and integrated into the new system. On-site installation took nine weeks, and was performed by E-Mech Entertainment Engineering
(led by Huw Micklewright), with the existing PA/VA system remaining in place and connected to the new amplifiers and loudspeakers during the process, allowing 100% uptime of the PA/VA system during the transition from old to new.