At Marlins Park, Engagement is the Name of the Game

Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins Major League Baseball team, recently marked its second anniversary, an occasion the team celebrated with an 8-2 win over the visiting San Diego Padres. Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton’s first-inning two-run homer, is the longest home run in the park since it opened April 4, 2012.

Stanton’s record homer, the park’s second anniversary celebration, and a thousand other moments during the ballgame were accompanied – and enhanced by – the park’s state-of-the-art sound system, featuring 517 EAW loudspeakers.

The park’s asymmetric stadium bowl layout required a complicated system design using a larger number of speakers than for any baseball park previously. The massive distributed sound system – designed by Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW) and installed by Minneapolis-based systems integrator Parsons Electric – features a combination of MK, QX and MQX series loudspeakers configured in 23 categories to deliver quality sound to each and every corner of the facility.

This asymmetrical design meant that focal points often needed different throw-distance speakers set at different distances and patterns. For instance, the area around home plate uses the EAW MQX8343-MS-WP extreme-throw enclosure from one side, but is matched on the baseline sides and outfield porch by the long-throw QX564-WP unit.

“The system design was very complex, but the EAW speakers were exactly what we needed to make it work,” says Tim Habedank, Systems Specialist at Parsons Electric. “We are able to achieve very tight pattern control across the spectrum. Yet at the same time the longest-throw speakers maintain the coherence of the sound for distances of between 200 and 300 feet. It’s really remarkable performance and the sound in the stadium shows it.”

Larry Blocker, the Marlins’ Senior Director of Game Presentations and Events, concurs. “The sound system impacts the game experience for fans from the moment they enter the ballpark.”

“It starts when they enter the concourse,” Blocker said. “They can hear every detail: the stadium announcer, the game being called… Likewise, when they get up to get food or a beer during the game, they remain engaged.”

Indeed, fan engagement is the name of the game.

“People expect to be engaged with the things they’re interested in at all times through their phones and other technology,” Blocker said. “And being at the ballpark is no different. So a sound system that clearly delivers the game experience for them, regardless of where they are in the park, is just what is expected.”

The players, as well, have higher expectations – expectations which are more easily met by the state-of-the-art system.

“When batters come up to bat – or when pitchers are in their warmup – they expect to hear their songs being played,” Blocker said. “And with the distributed system, they hear their songs, the fans hear their songs, everybody hears it. It adds to the entire game experience.

The system also adds value to other the park’s other entertainment elements.

“The videos we produce for broadcast on the screens take a lot of time and effort,” he said. “And it’s nice that the fans can clearly hear the audio that goes with them.”

The sound system has also added value to the park as a non-sports entertainment venue.

“We host corporate events, receptions, bar mitzvahs, you name it, on our terrace overlooking the Miami skyline,” Blocker said. “And with our system in place, people don’t have to spend more money on a sound system if they don’t want to.”

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