ARLINGTON, Texas--Tuesday was Super Bowl Media Day at Cowboys Stadium here, and while most of the NFL press corps was busy talking football with players and coaches, a different group of reporters was invited to talk about the technology behind this largest and most modern of pro sports venues.
At its heart, the stadium's massive tech infrastructure is run through one data center, which in addition to being the digital nerve-center of the Dallas Cowboys--America's Team, they all say--is also where 38 of megawatt-personality Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' businesses are controlled.
And while the main data center--with hundreds of servers and 10 terabytes of storage area network--is a formidable force, the stadium video control booth may be the most fun to look at.
The room, high above the field, gives the video crew the ability to run the world's-largest HD video board, as well as a large amount of other digital real estate. At the same time, those in the room are blessed, or harassed, depending on your perspective, with dozens of screens' worth of input from cameras and other sources around the stadium.
Though the screens in this picture have many Fox logos, the TV network, like all others here, runs its own video from trucks outside the stadium. This room is all about video displayed inside Cowboys Stadium.
At the heart of Cowboys Stadium's technology infrastructure is this data center, which was built to handle not just team operations but also 38 of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' businesses. The Cowboys contracted with CDW to coordinate the data center configuration, as well as much of the other elements of tech infrastructure, and in the end, the data center was designed around an Hewlett-Packard blade server architecture involving 128 blades, Cisco routers, as well as a 100 TB HP storage area network.
This is the Cowboys Stadium wireless access point control center. Located adjacent to the data center, this system allows technicians to control and monitor nearly 900 wireless access points throughout the stadium, checking their functionality, adjusting to on-the-ground conditions, and analyzing performance by different wireless networks.
On this screen, we see a map showing all the access points on a single level of Cowboys stadium. The map shows, at a glance, how many users are connected to each individual wireless access point, as well as a color code designating the performance of each: green for good, yellow for some issues, and red for problems.
Though Super Bowl game-day weather is expected to be mild and sunny, Media Day was met with snow, heavy winds, and icy roads. Here, the $1.2 billion behemoth Cowboys Stadium is seen from afar, still filling the entire frame. It is decked out in its Super Bowl--Green Bay Packers versus Pittsburgh Steelers signage--in spite of it normally being the Cowboys' home.
Among the other giant features of Cowboys Stadium is this mammoth video board, currently the world's largest HD video screen. The Mitsubishi Diamond Vision system, according to the Cowboys, cost $40 million and "has 30 million light bulbs and 25,000 square feet of video displays. Weighing 600 tons, the screens [are] suspended 90 feet directly over the center of the playing surface and stretch from nearly one 20-yard line to the other. The four-sided, center-hung structure, a first for an NFL stadium, consists of four...video displays."
Three wireless helical antennas are part of the system used for broadcasting all the stadium sound--including game sound and the halftime show--that fans and players alike will hear during the Super Bowl.