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At the December 31, 2010 meeting...
TD Garden Tour
One of New England's most sophisticated video production venues

The view from the TD Garden control room

It was a chilly Thursday evening the night before New Year's Eve when approximately 45 SMPTE-NE and AES members gathered at Boston's TD Bank Garden for a long-awaited "tech tour" of its video and audio facilities. It had been difficult to schedule this event due to the facility's extremely heavy use.

TD Garden's John Mitchell (center) answers questions from SMPTE-NE and AES members.

The generous 90-minute tour (originally planned for only 30) was conducted by our host, TD Garden's John Mitchell. 'Mitch' and his staff of about 40 highly skilled technicians operate out of a large control room high above court side for the (NBA) Boston Celtics, high above the ice when the Boston Bruins (NHL) are home. In addition to Basketball and hockey, there are dozens of other major events that are held at the Garden, from ice shows, circuses and rock concerts to political conventions (most notably, the 2004 Democratic National Convention). From way up in the control room on the building's top floor, even a seven foot basketball player appears diminutive. The Garden can seat nearly 20,000 enthusiastic fans. Capacity varies slightly by sport.

TD Garden's Control Room

In addition to controlling the relatively new Daktronics HD scoreboard (installed before the 2006-07 season), 'Mitch' commands a huge array of audiovisual equipment from HD cameras, Slo-Mo replay devices, graphic workstations, sound effects, to stored musical selections. Massive servers contain terabytes of archival graphics and video footage of the Celtics and Bruins that can be served-up on a moments notice.

TD Garden's Master Switcher Console

One of the major functions of the facility, Mitch says, is to supercharge the sports experience by heightening the mood of the crowd. The days of having just an organist and public address announcer are history. By means of all of the effects he has at his disposal 'Mitch' can literally play up the emotions of the crowd. All of this hoopla undoubtedly has a positive effect on the home team as well.

At first glance, the vast array of equipment is overwhelming. Rows and rows of patch bays, computer workstations, LCD monitors, switchers, control stations, line both sides of the control room. 'Mitch' likens the experience to working in a crowded broadcast truck, and once a game is underway, the coordination required of all involved is no less demanding.

All of us went away having a much greater appreciation for what goes into turning a sport into a sporting event.

Marty Feldman
SMPTE/New England Section

Posted: 26 January 2011
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor