Gearing Up for the Challenge
Securing and protecting one of the largest U.S. sporting complexes
Designed as a destination sports
facility, the LakePoint Sporting
Facility in Emerson, Ga.,
hosts top athletes from across
the United States participating
in nearly 50 competitive sports. From basketball
and volleyball to wake boarding and
baseball, LakePoint boasts more than 1,300
acres of land and five million square feet, with
amenities to accommodate not only top athletes,
but also family, spectators, athletic professionals
While the goal of this campus was to provide
a facility for athletes to compete, it was
the family, friends and spectators who had a
big impact on how it was designed. In addition
to exceptional views for each sporting
event, the facility is large enough to entertain
families and large groups long after their
child has finished competing.
As with any sports complex, security and
safety is a primary concern—not only for the
athletes, but for the hundreds of spectators
and staff as well. With sporting fields and facilities
spread over such a large plot of land,
the challenges of monitoring and securing
the state-of-the-art complex are as unique as
the competitions it hosts.
The Integrators: Selecting
the Right Partners
After meeting with local business owners
and reviewing a number of regional and
state-wide integrators, it quickly became
clear that LakePoint would require two partners:
one to manage security and another
to manage fire protection. With a focus on
securing a low-voltage provider, executives
chose LOUD Security Systems as the facility’s
security integrator. The 10-year contract
ensures continuity as the complex establishes
itself as a sports destination, while also providing
the flexibility to build on existing systems
if needed. Critical Systems, a frequent
partner of LOUD Security, became the fire
integrator for this unique project.
Even with two integrators, it was important
to select a single hardware and software
provider to reduce complexities between security
and fire monitoring. Honeywell was
selected for its wide product assortment including
fire alarms, security cameras, intrusion,
access control and wiring. By using
Honeywell, LakePoint security staff can
consolidate both security and fire data within
a simplified system.
“What drew us to the project was the
enormity of the indoor and outdoor space.
When working on a campus like this, they
needed to be prepared for safety issues that
fall outside of a standard office building scenario
that would be more specific to families
and young children,” said John Loud, president
of LOUD Security Systems. “With all
the activity and people, this project shared
many of the same challenges as modern
Securing Free Span
In the center of all the baseball and lacrosse
fields, LakePoint features the largest free span
building in North America, sitting at 170,000
square feet. Depending on the schedule for
the day, the building is equipped to be reconfigured
into 12 hardwood basketball courts or
24 volleyball courts, an open area for cheerleading
competitions, a space to host wrestling
matches and endless other activities.
The number one requirement of the
building: no columns allowed.
With 65 foot ceilings, and no columns
or interior walls, the installation of the security
and fire systems became significantly
more complex than typical sports facilities.
Beyond these two problems, the ceiling is
consumed by essential sporting equipment
from basketball hoops and scoreboards to
volleyball nets and wall dividers. There was
virtually no easy place for LOUD Security
and Critical Systems to install the fire and life safety devices.
Due to this complexity, each integrator had to submit weight
specifications of the technologies being recommended for installation.
This allowed the facility to determine whether the ceiling could
withstand all of the weight it would be holding, especially under circumstances
such as inclement weather. A typical office building or retail
store has enough support where security and fire installers never
need to consider the weight of the equipment.
“Even though we examined a collection of 3D drawings, it is difficult
to envision until it comes to life,” said Loud. “Once we established
the design build, we then had to overcome the challenge of
installing our systems at the same time as everyone else.”
Bill Van Loan, president of Critical Systems, described this challenge
as the ‘card trick installation.’
On a strict timeline, the integrators were required to complete the
installation of their devices on a busy ceiling, and at the same time
as the other components and trades – sprinklers, HVAC, structural
steel, electrical, fans, curtain walls, volleyball nets, basketball nets
and many other retractable sporting apparatus.
“For the fire installation, a major challenge was perfecting the
strobe synchronization,” Van Loan said.
He goes on to explain that the National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA) code requires having three or more strobes in the
same “field of view” across the busy ceiling. The planning that went
into the intricate design layout was sizable, considering the constant
movement of scoreboards and nets they needed to work around. To
accomplish this complicated task, the integrators installed several
multiple power supplies which simultaneously push out synchronization
to all strobes.
Both Loud and Van Loan attribute the success of the installation
to their teams. “One way to get over these challenges is to have people
on staff with experience,” Loud said. “Good management and communication
kept us from getting in trouble.”
Optimizing Fire Protection: Combining
Detection and Mass Notification
When it came to the fire alarm technology, Critical Systems looked
for a networkable, intuitive state-of-the-art system that had characteristics
of survivability, for instance the ability to withstand a breach
and still work properly. They chose the Honeywell | Gamewell-FCI
E3 Series system, which has the added benefit of being one of the
only panels U.L. listed for both fire and mass notification messages
in one setup.
Within a fiber optic backbone, this integrated and intuitive system
can communicate seamlessly across the vast campus. This advantage
authorizes facility operators to bypass individual maintenance and
security points from any building, and allows them to broadcast mass
notification messages across the campus, inside the facilities and outside
on the playing fields. Once additional indoor facilities are added
to the campus, LakePoint buildings will be connected through a fiber
optic network to monitor all facilities from redundant command
centers—or for more unique situations, have the ability to transmit live voice or pre-recorded messages from any one location. With an
environment where families are spread across the campus, seamless
communication between buildings was essential.
“Looking at these systems today, they are much more than just
fire alarms, they are emergency evacuation systems. The Honeywell
| Gamewell-FCI E3 Series will allow LakePoint staff to handle situations
beyond fires such as building lockdowns, weather alerts and
active shooter warnings,” Van Loan said.
Two command centers serve as the hub of the mass notification
system, activating weather alerts, building lockdowns and other urgent
messages. With the added security that comes with having two
command centers instead of one, a location can take over if the other
Beyond ensuring compliance with NFPA guidelines, the project
fell under the state fire marshal instead of a local municipality—
which meant much stricter enforcement. Bill Van Loan and his team
had to work extensively with the fire marshal on variances and decisions
specific to the structure and intricacies of this building. For
example, the standard 30-foot height of ADA strobe placement had
to be changed to 35-feet in order to avoid interference from ceiling
equipment and stay in line, and in view, with the other strobes. The
ADA strobe equivalency approach was implemented here and approved
by the state fire marshal.
In addition to height requirements, the building also posed a challenge
for the NFPA codes when it came to the audibility and intelligibility
of evacuation tones and messages. Retractable walls, 6,000
spectators and 12 basketball games at once does not easily lend itself
to perfectly clear, and intelligible, voice announcements. “In order
to ensure all high-powered speaker clusters could project audio sufficiently,
we built a mock-up panel to test our system and circuitry,”
said Van Loan.
From the beginning, the project teams overcame uncommon difficulties
such as installation in a free span building, navigating a busy
ceiling, and adhering to code requirements in an unusual setting. But
with big plans for an expansion under way, LakePoint has just seen
the beginning of their challenges.
Looking Ahead: Expanding the
Largest Sports Complex
The future of LakePoint could include the addition of hotels, gas
stations, restaurants, ice cream shops, a convention center, a security
holding center and much more. With these additional structures
come increased needs from the security and fire systems.
Today, LakePoint leverages video surveillance, intrusion and fire
panels in the building, with surveillance spread across the outdoor
fields. Next up, the security and life safety team will be working to
integrate these systems, and access control, into a singular interface
to monitor all facilities, across all Honeywell platforms.
As the demand for state-of-the-art sports complexes increases,
athletes and spectators will continue to seek out
new training and competition facilities. By incorporating
cutting edge security and life safety
systems with innovative design, it’s no wonder
LakePoint is a destination for athletes from
across the country.
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Security Today.