Aptly named The Arena, the Pickering Casino Resort's primary venue is a multipurpose event space designed to host a wide range of programming, including concerts, boxing matches, corporate, and special events.
Featuring retractable seating and highly flexible sound, lighting, and video infrastructure, The Arena, which opened in April 2023 with a sold-out Bryan Adams show, can serve as whatever incoming clients require for their specific event ranging from a traditional concert facility, or an in-the-round boxing venue.
Determining the design and products for The Arena’s concert audio system found GerrAudio working closely with the Integration team at Aligned Vision Group (AV Group) to meet the venue’s needs for flexibility and rider-friendliness with a Meyer Sound PA and a Clear-Com intercom system featuring Clear-Com’s Arcadia Central Station.
AV Group also provided video, lighting, and rigging systems for the venue, explains AV Group Business Development and Partner John Coniglio: “It’s a 2,500-capacity venue, whether it’s general admission (GA) or reserved seating. For context, when there's a boxing event, the capacity is 1,100 people, with tables taking up floor space. On the floor, we have detachable seats that move away manually. In the front half of the floor, that portion can all go away and be a GA space. The different seating options include full concert seating. When seating is fully retracted into the wall, it becomes a GA space,” he adds, citing a boxing event where the seats were removed and, in what would be the centre of the GA floor, a boxing ring was placed.
“Gerr was a great partner, as far as vendor/integrator relationship. They came to us with a proposal (for the Meyer system). We reviewed their proposal and came back to them with recommendations. Gerr would take our recommendations into consideration and readjust their design approach,” Coniglio says. “So Gerr was helpful throughout that process and in working with myself, David VanVeldhuisen (Senior System Designer), Guy Wallace (Senior Project Manager, Partner), and Andy Foord (Engineering, Partner) to help us meet the requirements needed to make our proposal to the client above their expectations.”
To meet The Arena’s multi-use function, AV Group provided a sound system composed of Left/Right/Center elements, subs, delay, front fill, and out-fill boxes. In all, the standard L/R on stage PA system is comprised of nine Meyer LEOPARD’s per side for L/R arrays, a centre hang of nine LINA compact line array boxes, as well as three 900-LFC subs in a cardioid configuration per side, six more 900-LFC underneath the stage along with Meyer UPQ loudspeakers for delay and out fills, and ULTRA-X20s for front fill. System control is managed using Meyer’s GALAXY platform via four GALAXY 816s in a backstage rack. The monitor system also incorporates Meyer boxes: Meyer MJF-210 compact wedge monitors, UPQ-D2s, and 750-LFCs for side fills or drum fills.
“The original design intent for all these systems was for them to be portable to meet the requirements of the multi-configurations of the facility. But we had to develop a hybrid approach because some technology will be in place permanently,” Coniglio says. “So it’s built with portable cabling, but the infrastructure itself is hardwired, and all of our digital audio transmission is over Dante or AVB.”
It was a complex project with many moving parts, but the Meyer rig delivered what they expected. “It was straightforward," says Wallace, AV Group’s Senior Project Manager on the build, “and the GALAXY system is quite flexible, particularly with the AVB wiring."
Meyer was one of several options the client had requested. Coniglio notes: “When the client reviewed our proposal with Nathan Haynes of AVIO Designs, their consultant, GCGC liked the Meyer solution.”
“The Meyer system provided the intended coverage, gave us the flexibility of control through the GALAXY software, and a familiar interface for touring artists,” Wallace says. “The intention for the design was a portable system, so going with self-powered loudspeakers simplified that because we didn’t have to deal with moving multiple amplifier racks around.”
The decision to go with Meyer Sound was based primarily on The Arena’s function as a live event venue and the ‘rider-friendliness’ of Meyer PAs. “But the flexibility to be able to break it down and reconfigure the system (to work in tandem with an additional overhead loudspeaker system) for boxing matches was also important,” Wallace continues, adding that the self-powered loudspeakers provided more flexibility and ease in doing so. “And the GALAXY system is set up to accommodate both configurations easily for the end user.”
Regarding future flexibility, Meyer’s Spacemap Go immersive platform can be integrated if the client requires it and as immersive sound penetrates deeper into the industry. “There is an intention for the future implementation of Spacemap Go,” Wallace says.
The choice to integrate Clear-Com was influenced by the touring market, the ubiquity of Clear-Com as a solution in that market, and the scalability of their systems. As Coniglio puts it, “What was easily offset for the client if they require more or less of the product. That was part of my presentation to the client as to how we could support them post-opening should they need more intercom components. We had to keep in mind that it’s not just a concert venue, that the client needs to be able to reconfigure the room, and that there is actually a setup for all of their use cases.”
Given Clear-Com’s wide usage and the fact that their newer and older offerings work fluently together, it’s rarely a difficult sell as a comms solution, particularly one that combines wired and wireless comms like Arcadia.
“Arcadia is an expansion of Clear-Com HelixNet and FreeSpeak II,” Wallace explains: "It allows for a higher density of beltpacks per access point and therefore better coverage and flexibility for the space using fewer access points. And, again, it’s a familiar interface for touring artists.”
“I’m open to different products, but Clear-Com just works well,” VanVeldhuisen adds. “We had some issues with timelines because of supply chain issues, but Gerr was helping us – the minute it hit their shop, it was sent to our shop. Clear-Com’s a staple of the industry, so it’s often our first choice for intercom, especially in a theatrical or events facility.”
In describing the project overall, Coniglio highlights the benefit of long-term relationships between the client and AV Group, dating back to Coniglio, Wallace, and VanVeldhuisen’s time at Westbury. That relationship, Haynes and AVIO Designs' lengthy association with the client, experience in this space, and GerrAudio Distribution’s responsiveness and collaboration made this an ideal situation for AV Group.
“They’re a dream client; they wanted to listen to our recommendations and were a pleasure to work with,” Coniglio says.
Granted, AV Group brought its own ‘dream team’ to the table, Coniglio says, citing Wallace, VanVeldhuisen, and Andrew Foord’s contributions to a project that required a significant amount of technology beyond what’s mentioned here in the provision of audio, lighting, video, and rigging systems. “There aren’t many companies that can deliver on these types of projects. We’re blessed to have three of the top people in Canada, all under one roof, at AV Group.”
Gerr’s input, too, Wallace says, was crucial to achieving the client’s vision: “We worked directly with Ian Robertson and GerrAudio on the Meyer design. As we worked through the physical design, we realized that owing to some architectural changes and other alterations, not everything was as originally drawn, but we were able to work with Gerr to quickly and collaboratively modify the design slightly to suit the physical building and rigging system.”
“If we needed to make a change to a speaker because of sightlines, we’d call Ian and say, ‘Let’s look at this in Mapp 3D,’ and never have I heard him say, ‘I just don’t have any more time’ – it’s always ‘Yes,’ sometimes within minutes,” VanVeldhuisen says, adding that was also the case with the Clear-Com system. “We dealt with Gerr on the technical design, implementation, and configuration. They also came out and provided training.”
The AV Group team’s years of experience go a long way to deepening their ability to identify early on in a process what will and will not work for a client. As importantly, they approach every project knowing that flexibility is as integral to the design/integration process as it is in terms of the equipment and systems specified. “We’re not averse to altering things so the client gets exactly what they need even if that’s not what’s put on paper initially,” VanVeldhuisen concludes, “We work with many vendors with a similar, ‘whatever it takes’ approach. Gerr is one of them.
That ethic and the emphasis on service and accountability is something Wallace believes Aligned Vision Group shares with GerrAudio. “100-percent. Gerr stands behind their products, and they’re willing to help out in any way. Once we’ve decided to use one of their product lines, we never question whether or not it will be supported.”
Pickering Casino Resort Complete Stage Short Promo by Aligned Vision Group.