Exclusive! Baseball’s Newest Gem Takes IP Video to the Ballgame

St. Louis is a city that bleeds red with baseball. The Cardinals are as much a treasure as the Gateway Arch that gives a halo to this city named after a saint.

The city’s Major League Baseball franchise has built itself a new $365 million palace and is protecting it with a virtual fortification — one of the most advanced network video security systems ever installed.

“It’s my favorite team from early childhood on, so to have the opportunity to do work on a project like this has been an honor and that’s the way we have approached it,” says Facility Control Systems Inc. President Ed Heisler, who served as the overall consultant for the Cardinals on the system installation. “We want to make sure we end up with the best systems, technology and services that we can provide these guys.”

The new Busch Stadium, sitting right next to where the previous one stood, is the fifth park the Cards have called home since they started play as the St. Louis Brown Stockings in 1882. It’s also the third to be named Busch Stadium. (See sidebar on right side of this page). The new Busch Stadium’s security system is a national-scale project with local contractors and consultants doing all the work.

“You don’t have a lot of big national companies in here,” says Curt Will, vice president of Will Electronics, one of the two main contractors for the installation. “You have a lot of local companies that do a lot of work.” While the overall system installation by Will Electronics and Sachs Electric Co. included access control and a life-safety system, those served as utility players compared to what is one of the largest IP-based video security systems ever installed at a major sporting venue.

Cardinals Owners Put Premium on Protecting Players and Fans
The 46,861 fans that the new stadium holds will have such features at their disposal as seats closer to the action and cupholders. To protect them will take a technological leap.

“There have been a lot of new stadiums built over the last 10 to 15 years. Seeing what could be done in a lot of these new facilities, we saw a tremendous opportunity for us to really improve our security through surveillance,” says Joe Abernathy, vice president of Busch Stadium operations. “My manager was telling me that we want a significant increase in the security we can provide as we move into this new park, and this was all incorporated into the building from the first day.”

Whereas 14 cameras watched over the previous stadium — built in 1966 — the players and fans will now be protected by 114, including 22 megapixel cameras. The team offices and other restricted access areas of Busch Stadium III will be protected by card access control, while the only access control at the previous stadium were locks and keys.

But CCTV systems and access control will be the last things on the minds of the Cardinals and their fans on game day. Their biggest concerns will be whether Albert Pujols will drive in enough runs and Chris Carpenter can go the distance to bring the Redbirds another victory. Still, the video security system will help make sure that balls and strikes will be the only things they worry about.

Stadium’s Security System Goes Beyond the Box Score
On the surface, baseball is a simple game — a pitcher throws a ball and a batter tries to hit it. But any baseball fan knows the game is much more nuanced and layered than that. In the same sense, a security system at a sporting venue has more purpose than just protecting the players and fans. In some cases, cameras will have the additional function of protecting a lead for the Cardinals.

In the process of installing the security cameras, installers also mounted a separate “coaching video system” of 10 cameras. It includes cameras in the bullpen to see if a warmed-up reliever is ready to come in, cameras in the batting cage below the seats so coaches can see if they have a hot bat ready to catch fire, and even cameras aimed at home plate so batters can see if the pitch they struck out on was actually a strike.

“There are going to be stations set up inside the clubhouse area where they can go and view what happened at their last at-bat,” says Kris Huels, senior project for the overall installation lead on the project, Sachs Electric Co.

Concessionaires — whether they’re selling hot dogs or foam “We’re Number One” foam fingers — are looking to video security to keep sellers and customers from pulling a fast one. Additionally, team lawyers want evidence to refute any fan trying to make the team liable for a slip and fall.

There’s also the difference between game day, where tens of thousands of people are occupying the building, and the few trolling the concourses when the team is out of town.

“You’ve got periods of time when the stadium is absolutely empty, so having camera surveillance to keep on eye on something is important for the same reason as when you’ve got 50,000 in your facility,” says Heisler. “Both warrant having the best possible video and surveillance available.”

Home Team at Root of Successful Security Installation
For a baseball team to be successful, it can’t have a weak link between batters one or nine, or a bad arm in the bullpen. Even if a team has a player with the home run prowess of Mark McGwire or the hitting ability of Stan Musial, it won’t be gunning for a pennant if all the players aren’t on the same page.

The team behind the security installation at Busch Stadium III was truly a home team, led by two St. Louis-based contractors with more than 130 years of experience between them. Aiding them was a local security consultant, a video security manufacturer and the Cardinals themselves. Their cohesiveness is the reason why such a complex CCTV system was ready before the first pitch at the new Busch.

Besides constant communication, the secret weapon for this team was that each player knew their role — in the same sense that a leadoff hitter knows how their job differs from the clean-up batter.

Serving as the overall electrical contractor was Sachs and its Sachs Systems subsidiary — fulfilling the same role it did when the second Busch Stadium was built four decades ago. Sachs performed most of the actual installation work, putting in the cabling, mounting the equipment and interconnecting it all to the rack rooms.

Will Electronics provided the video security equipment and acted as the direct liaison with the manufacturers, with a majority of the equipment coming from Panasonic Security Systems. Will also handled the integration and system software duties.

“All of us have been at this for a long time,” says Will. “There are a lot of Johnny-come-latelys in this business, but they selected a team with a lot of experience.”

Facility Control Systems served as the overall manager of the project and consultant for the Cardinals, trying to meet all the specified needs of Cardinals management and put the initial specifications together.

FCS’ Heisler says the installation team has proved to be a winning combination mainly because they stuck to a gameplan of making sure to communicate directly with each other daily.

“The logistics and the coordination and the phasing of the work from the installation perspective to material deployment has been a real challenging part of the stadium,” Heisler says. “It’s coordination with communication to make sure that everything was in there at the right point.” New Ballpark for Cardinals Comes Together in Pieces
The construction of Busch Stadium III was all about challenges, and that didn’t just include the security system.

A decision was made to lit
erally have part of Busch Stadium III built on the same site where Busch Stadium II sat. The decision was also made to play out the 2005 season in the previous park and move into the new park in 2006. While aimed in different directions, the out

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