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The tech behind the Super Bowl's stadium (photos)

Just about everything that takes place on Sunday at Cowboys Stadium will be impacted in some way by technology.

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Daniel Terdiman
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Super Bowl video control room

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.

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Data center

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.
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Access point control center

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.
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Access point status map

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.
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Field view from video control booth

Here, we see the view of the field at Cowboys Stadium during Super Bowl Media Day from inside the stadium video control center.
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Cowboys Stadium

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.
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Control board

A large control board in the Cowboys Stadium video control room.
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Data center from the outside

A view of the Cowboys Stadium data center from the other side of security glass.
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Server racks

These racks hold some of the 128 HP blade servers found in the Cowboys Stadium data center.
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The big board

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."
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Routers

CDW solution architect Lance Caserotti stands in front of some of the Cisco routers built into the data center architecture.
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The trophy

The Vince Lombardi trophy, perhaps the most famous in pro sports, on a pedestal at one end of the NFL Network booth at Cowboys Stadium on Super Bowl Media Day.
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Helical antennas

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.
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Sound booth

This game and halftime show sound control station is located just adjacent to the field at Cowboys Stadium.
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Diamond Vision

Here, we see the HD Diamond Vision video board--the world's largest--towering over the field at Cowboys Stadium.
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Steelers team picture

At the end of Media Day festivities, the AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers pose for a team picture.
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Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers answers questions during Media Day.
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Ben Roethlisberger

Controversial Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger answers questions during Media Day.
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50 yard line

The 50-yard line at Cowboys Stadium, home of Super Bowl XLV.
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Packers on the field

A group of Green Bay Packers sits on a set of bleachers during Media Day.

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