T. McC’s Sports Bar at Island Resort & Casino in Harris MI recently opened to the public as the recreation area’s only “True Sports Bar Experience,” according to the owners. Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the casino resort locale is a 16-minute drive from the town of Escanaba. Named for the venue’s late General Manager, Tom McChesney, T. McC’s features the area’s only videowall combined with personalized viewing and audio areas.
Renovations to the former Island Sports Bar were part of a two-year expansion project; the entire $8 million plan was announced early in 2015. In the process, the Island bar was completed as part of the master plan. And they have other expansions yet to do. The entire plan was announced early in 2015 by Island Resort & Casino General Manager Tony Mancilla and Hannahville Indian Community Tribal Chairman Ken Meshigaud. The Island Resort & Casino is wholly owned and operated by the Hannahville Indian Community, which is a federally recognized Potawatomi Indian tribe that resides in the Michigan Upper Peninsula (see “Island Resort & Casino Expansion and Renovation” for more information, above).
ESG (Enterprise Systems Group), Little Chute WI, a division of Wisconsin Wireless Communications Corporation, was the integrator. We spoke with ESG Account Manager Dan Rubin and AV Systems Manager Jeff Seager. Joe Stanchina, IT Director at the casino resort and the entire Hannahville Indian Community, offered the client perspective.
The client’s vision was to open a sports bar like no other in the area. “Originally, they had a lounge with just a few TVs and a nice eatery area,” said Rubin. “They felt it was overdue in improving and enhancing the space. There is really not any great sports bar or restaurant type in their area in the Upper Peninsula, so they saw the opportunity to turn that space into something that could really draw people in for events like a big-game experience.”
If a matrix switcher goes down, the whole system goes down. With video over IP, you may lose an encoder or a decoder, but it’s easily replaced within five minutes. You put in a new IP address, and it’s up and running 100%.
T. McC’s is in a long room. From the front videowall to the back, it’s about 40 feet. Then the bar extends 60 to 70 feet from left to right. Flexibility and expandability are key words for this AV install, which is Crestron-accessed using an iPad.
In terms of flexibility, the system contains 31 monitors, including a 3×3 LG videowall that can be configured as one large monitor, a 2×2 videowall with five individual viewing monitors or all individual screens. Specifically, the videowall is comprised of nine 47-inch LG monitors. On a curved wall outside the bar and facing the casino, there’s a 90-inch TV that displays the same configuration as the videowall inside the bar.
Regarding expandability, SVSi video and QSC audio products were chosen because they provide the customer with the ability to grow and expand these systems throughout the entire resort and casino in the future.
“There are gaming devices in the bar,” said Seager. “So people can play while they watch sports.”
Beyond bars and restaurants, ESG specializes in AV projects in the corporate and business world, providing conference room setups, videoconferencing, installing basic monitors with scaling capability and making the everyday hookup of a PC easy to the end user.
The integrator’s AV experience transferred over to a variety of projects for Island Resort & Casino, including its entire wireless network and security upgrade, all of which is monitored over IP. “This is our first AV project with the casino,” said Rubin, “and we hope to expand into other areas there, as well.”
ESG worked with Hannahville IT Director Joe Stanchina and General Manager Tony Mancilla. “The design and quoting process happened over a two-month time period, with different versions of quotes going back and forth,” explained Rubin. “We met with the contractors as they were remodeling. We talked to Tony and Joe about their vision. They had an idea of where they wanted the televisions to go and how they should be mounted. Then it was up to us to provide the correct quotes.”
According to Rubin and Seager, the biggest challenge was the install time. “Once it came to install, it was a very quick turnaround, with the actual install done over a one-week period at the end of May and the beginning of June,” said Rubin. “What we were able to do in a week was pretty substantial and definitely impressive.”
“There were some issues with the videowall,” added Seager. “The walls were not plum, so we had to build a structure for proper alignment.” Furthermore, Crimson AV tilt mounts were used for the videowall because of the depth of the screens. Similarly, the tilt mounts were used to adjust the surround TVs for maximum viewing.
Delving into the sound, the QSC-based audio system consists of Q-Sys Core 250i networked DSP processing, power amplifiers and AD-C1200 12-inch-high compression ceiling speakers in Atlas baffles, along with GP118 18-inch subwoofers. The two subs were hung on the ceiling.
“The high-compression speakers were selected at the client’s request for five individual audio zones in an open bar area,” said Rubin. “The QSC tight-pattern ceiling speakers fit the bill perfectly. The speakers and the audio processing allowed us to keep the sound in each specific zone.”
Furthermore, bar personnel have the ability to access 12 sources. “There are several wait staff,” said Seager. “One iPad controls it all very easily, so the bartenders can quickly switch between video and audio inputs to each zone.”
The venue recently added a Shure QLXD24/SM58 wireless handheld mic system. “It’s used for announcements and drawings,” said Rubin.
“They also have the ability to easily plug a laptop into the system for doing fantasy football,” said Seager.
Video Over IP
The entire video over IP system is routed through SVSi 2000 series encoders, decoders and an SVSi N8002 controller to manage the videowall. “All the SVSi inputs are housed in the rack,” explained Seager. “Each display has a decoder behind it, and we are controlling the entire SVSi system with the N8002 controller, which allows us to monitor all the encoders and decoders remotely from our Help Desk.”
The integrator went video over IP to reduce system failure. “The whole basis of choosing SVSi is based on the reputation of the company’s products, their low latency,” Seager pointed out. “If a matrix switcher goes down, the whole system goes down. With video over IP, you may lose an encoder or a decoder, but it’s easily replaced within five minutes. You put in a new IP address, and it’s up and running 100%.”
Existing TVs were incorporated with the videowall in the renovation. The rear of each television is equipped with an SVSi decoder, which runs via Cat6 and terminates to the network switch in the equipment rack.
The Middle Atlantic rack is located in a separate little room behind the bar. The rack has an intake/exhaust fan kit where the exhaust goes to the top of the rack. “With all the satellite receivers and cable boxes, it can be extremely hot in the rack,” explained Rubin. “There’s also a built-in thermostat that monitors rack temperature.” The fan kit ensures that equipment in the rack keeps within a safe operating temperature.
Equipment Protection, Monitoring
All AV equipment is fully protected with Furman and Panamax surge protection and UPS units. These products will eventually be the platform for digital signage, a conference center, conference rooms and a live events room.
“From past use, we’ve found that Panamax and Furman are by far the best surge protection,” declared Seager. “The Panamax are made to sacrifice themselves in case of lightning strike or something to that effect.”
Wisconsin Wireless Communications Group, in partnership with ESG, is able to fully monitor and securely remote into the systems to reboot, change programming and perform other functions without traveling to the site.
Subsequently, ESG added an ACTi 360° camera mounted in the middle of T. McC’s, which is used for 100% viewing of the room for remote maintenance. “If the bar calls our Help Desk with a problem, the message is dispatched to one of our technicians.” Rubin pointed out, adding, “Then he can go through our iView. Via our Critical Systems Management Division, we can dial into the ACTi camera, see what’s going on and make adjustments to the system. We also have an ACTi NVR (network video recorder) for management.
“Remote monitoring and maintenance will be required in the future as AV moves to the IP world,” added Rubin, “and we are fortunate to have these systems already in place.”
Joe Stanchina noted that the IT department is responsible for the whole Hannahville Indian Community. “We have a variety pack on the IT side,” he said. “We have the gaming environment, a school, a health center and a number of government entities. In the casino environment, we’re pretty much responsible for the entire network. Other than the AV portion in the sports bar, we have some digital signage throughout the facility, but that’s in a separate area that we’re going to combine into part of the sports bar.”
Regarding the uniqueness of the sports bar AV, he pointed out the five audio zones that allow different individual events for the customers. “It gives the bar employees the ability to help the customers get the right viewing event,” said Stanchina. “Sometimes you have a guy sitting in the bar and he says, ‘I want to watch this [particular] game,’ and everybody else in the bar doesn’t want to watch it. So the bartender selects the one that customer wants to watch. It helps the bartender, and it helps the customer.” The same goes for other individuals in other areas of the bar.
will be required in the future as AV moves to
the IP world.’
In commending ESG’s work, he said, “We needed somebody who could deliver in a short period of time, and they did deliver up to the day the bar opened. In the end, we had to get the product up and running, and make sure the customers were satisfied.
“We can route throughout the facility because it’s on the network now,” Stanchina emphasized. “We can route through the gaming area and shoot down into the convention area. We could push things beyond the sports bar and consolidate the digital signage. In the end, it’s a seamless process.”
Island Resort & Casino Expansion & Renovation
The following is based on information posted by the Island Resort & Casino:
The Island Resort & Casino has undertaken an $8 million expansion and renovation project. According to Tribal Chairman Ken Meshigaud, “Through the years, the Hannahville Indian Community had undertaken projects to enhance and promote the Island Resort & Casino, making us a leader in the Midwest gaming resort and golf arena, as well as offering employment opportunities to well over 700 persons. We remain committed to both as we reinvest in the operation, offering additional amenities and enhancements to our guests.”
These “enhancements” will be completed over a two-year period starting in 2015. In addition to renovating the existing Island Bar into a major sports bar venue, the enhancements will also include a second championship golf course, a full- service spa, renovation of the current bingo hall and redesign of the exterior hotel entrance.
General Manager Tony Mancilla stated, “The management team and employees at the Island are excited about these new amenities allowing us to be a full-service resort for customers both locally and regionally.”
The new expansion/renovation comes a mere four years after the completion of the $2 million convention center expansion and renovation project, which completed work in May 2011.