Lawler Arena, the home of the Merrimack College Warriors, received a multi-million-dollar renovation over the summer of 2023. Building upgrades included the new “Galant Club” with its comfortable seating, food service, and bar. The “Champion’s Club” which was previously known as the “Blue Line Club” was significantly expanded. Along with a bold, new paint scheme, Lawler Arena has taken on the feel of a professional sports facility.
In the past, the arena had become known for a lackluster sound system. Sound coverage was spotty and speech intelligibility was marginal at best. Many in attendance and those playing on the ice would often miss announcements. And the music playback was anything but crowd inspiring. The college recognized the challenge that lay before them.
During the fast-moving planning stages, Pro AV Systems was brought in to design a sound system appropriate for a Division I arena: powerful, articulate, intelligible, with a lot of “wow factor” that could excite a crowd. The system designers quickly realized the building had some challenging features that had to be overcome, most notably an unusually low ceiling. Pro AV Systems knew that a distributed speaker system of smaller, yet powerful speakers would be needed. Another challenge was the depth of the bleacher seating relative to the ceiling height. Finding a speaker approach that would cover the deep bleachers from a single speaker would also prove to be a challenge.
Pro AV Systems designers created an acoustic model of the arena. This allowed them to create and analyze over a dozen virtual loudspeaker designs to ensure the best performance for every seat, all while keeping an eye on the budget.
The final speaker design is composed of Bose ArenaMatch and DesignMatch loudspeakers augmented with Acoustic Fulcrum subwoofers, all powered by Bose PowerMatch amplifiers.
As the loudspeaker design was being finalized, Pro AV Systems met with staff from the college responsible for hockey, basketball, and commencement to ensure the system had the flexibility to accommodate all events that occur in the arena. Audio inputs, video tie lines, and fiber optics were pulled strategically around the arena to make events easier to stage and execute.
From hospitality suite speaker systems to ambient noise microphones used to add excitement to the broadcasts, design considerations were wide ranging. All sound sources and microphones are handled by a Biamp Tisera Server. When needed, a Yamaha QL1 production mixer can be patched into the system via the Dante network.
Lawler Arena now sounds like what one would expect from a Division I facility. The system’s output is easily able to exceed 112dB-SPL with a frequency response of 35Hz to 16kHz rivaling any NHL arena.
The renovated Arena reopened in October and the sound system was debuted with both a women’s and men’s hockey game to rave reviews by students, staff, broadcast media, and the press.