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Risks and Liabilities Associated with Downtime in Stadiums

Stadium Lighting Surge ProtectionStadiums and other event venues are complex facilities, featuring multiple systems that all must work in tandem during concerts, sporting events, conventions, and any other large scale public gathering. A stadium needs lighting systems, security, point-of-sale, ticket collection, video displays, and many other systems in order to create the right environment for fans, players, performers and personnel. A power surge that damages electronic systems can be catastrophic for the stadium, causing interruptions, downtime and destruction of equipment.

Should one of these systems go down, it creates issues beyond the loss of the system functionality. A point-of-sale system not functioning during an event means that sales cannot go through, resulting in massive losses in revenue from concessions and merchandise. Should ticket collection mechanisms not properly function, tickets could be counted inaccurately, resulting in unauthorized persons sneaking into an event or authorized persons not being granted access.

A very public display of stadium systems suddenly becoming nonfunctional took place at the 2013 Super Bowl in the New Orleans Superdome, when a partial power outage literally turned off the lights during the nighttime game, stopping play for 34 minutes. A newly installed relay tripped, resulting in the power outage, during which only emergency lighting functioned. The incident was embarrassing for the Superdome staff and the city of New Orleans as a whole, with such a massive spotlight as the Super Bowl casting a black shadow over the stadium’s ability to cope and the city’s ability to plan.

Because stadiums host a variety of different types of events, there are many different risks associated with systems going down. At a hockey game, the ice must be kept at a steady temperature or there is risk of it melting and becoming dangerous for the athletes and, ultimately, unplayable. A concert requires functioning microphones, amps and speakers or no one will hear the music. Giant video boards and complex lighting are essential to today’s performances, and pyrotechnics could become dangerous if improperly set off.

With any system downtime, security becomes a problem. Without cameras to monitor situations, security officers cannot quickly identify and respond to fights or other incidents; without access control it is much easier for unauthorized persons to enter restricted areas or bring unauthorized items into the stadium. In the event of a blackout or other event-delaying outage, unruly attendees can create a higher risk environment, with security less able to properly respond. There is also the additional risk of event attendees getting into conflicts with performers or athletes.

In order to prevent powerful surge events from creating any of these risks in a stadium environment, proper surge protection is essential. A large surge can take down multiple systems in a stadium, causing cascading consequences—and possibly causing cancellation of a game, concert or other event, at a tremendous cost. Most surges in a stadium environment are internally generated, caused by the large electronics needed in such a large venue, including HVAC and power generators. These large surges are often then distributed to smaller devices like cameras and POS devices.

In determining the surge protection necessary to protect stadium systems, it’s essential to consider each system individually as well as including it as a part of whole-stadium surge considerations. Making sure you have surge protection on individual electronics as well as larger machinery can help protect all devices from surges.

In a stadium or event venue, many electrical and electronic systems are needed to create an exciting experience for attendees—be it the Super Bowl or a local concert. In order to make sure that these systems remain functional in the event of a power surge, it’s critical to consider the surge protection needs of the entire facility. It’s one of the most important things you can do to make sure the show always goes on. 


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