BY CHRIS DEVIVO ‘93
Chris DeVivo is a media technology consultant. He writes BackTeching.com, a blog on technology and media in pro sports.
A wise man once said to a not-so-wise man, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” The not-so-wise man replied, “Get serious! Give me what I wish for and I’ll be at the end of my troubles.” “Yes,” replied the wise man, “the front end.”
When the Pittsburgh Penguins decided to move into a new home at Consol Energy Center, I was project manager for most of the technology integration. Scoreboards, LED signs, the in-house cable network, the video control room, IT — if it had a microchip in it, chances are I had a hand in it. The new place had everything I had dreamed of in the 12 years I worked at Mellon Arena. I quickly found out the difference between dreaming about a new facility and actually being a part of the process.
A project of this size — Consol Energy Center cost over $300 million — moves fast. Plans are in place months, if not years, ahead of time. Very early on in the process, I had to be a part of a lot of technology decisions, many of which were yet to be wholly defined. I distinctly remember a meeting where we were trying to determine how much fiber optic and data cable we wanted. Never mind that we had no solid idea what equipment we were going to put at either end of those cables. The project had to move according to schedule, and we had to come up with answers.
Every item was reviewed, researched, revised, and reviewed again. Someone joked that we had 10 meetings for every dollar spent. It meant getting out of my comfort zone on a lot of things and having to drink from the fire hose. On more than one occasion I found myself in a tech meeting secretly looking up terminology on my Blackberry to be sure that the acronym we were talking about meant what I really thought it meant. It was both humbling and enriching.
In the end, we achieved our goals. We built an arena as advanced as any sports facility in the country, with enough “future-proofing” to ensure that we’re ready for upgrades and new technology.
It wasn’t until a day or so before the home opener that everything crystallized for me. I was standing on the bench watching a rehearsal, and as I looked around at everything I had been a part of, I felt an immense sense of pride in what we had accomplished. Thinking back to the beginning, I realized that we got what we wanted. It may have hurt a little at times, but in the end it was everything that I wished for.