The Coca-Cola Arena is the first and largest, fully air-conditioned, multipurpose indoor arena in the Middle East. The design is based around the O2 Arena in London, UK, adopting a generic arena bowl layout with the stage at one end, although it is hugely versatile and the set-up of the bowl can be changed depending on the type of event at any given time. Along with touring productions, comedy gigs and exhibitions, the arena is also capable of hosting sporting events such as ice hockey, basketball and tennis, to name just a few.

The seated capacity excluding the 42 hospitality suites, VIP suites and royal suites is 13,000. With standing included, the full arena can accommodate 17,000. Additionally, the arena has a horizontal and a vertical draping system, so more intimate sporting events or live gigs can also feel at home.

Technology within the Coca-Cola Arena, whether it be audio, lighting or visual has been designed and installed with the future in mind, even the roof structure, as the rigging points and the roof weight are rather unique in a venue of this type.

Utilising some of that roof weight is the in-house PA system from JBL Professional. It is a fully functioning system that provides ample audio coverage for sporting events and end-stage concerts.

The Coca-Cola Arena is among the first VTX A12 installations globally, and is the largest install of the new product series in the Middle Eastern region to date.

The JBL PA is driven by Crown IT4x3500HD amplifiers connected via a Dante network and accessed via JBL’s Performance Manager – a software application that reduces design time, simplifies networking and automates control interface configuration. A BSS Soundweb London BLU-806DA processor is also integrated into the system, and is used when the bowl audio needs to be cut off to make an emergency announcement. A Meyer Sound Galaxy 816 processor is also available at FOH for access into the system and for touring EQ.

Another element of technology that uses the rigging points is the LED screens. These are not permanently installed, as they can be configured in different ways depending on the application.

Similarly for lighting, clients can make use of it as they wish. This element of the arena was delivered by Eaton Lighting Systems from the UK, through a collaboration with locally based, BMTC, a dealer of Eaton products in the Middle East region, which also took responsibility for the installation of the lighting fixtures and control systems within the venue.

Much of the project needed to be procured from UK companies, because at least some of the investment secured by the venue’s owners, MERAAS, emanated from the UK, so a UK connection was necessary. Although Eaton Lighting Systems doesn’t have an exclusive distributor in the Middle East, it has worked on other MERAAS projects including Dubai Parks & Resorts, LEGOLAND Dubai, Riverland Dubai and City Walk 2 – a shopping mall in very close proximity to the arena. It was due to the latter that the local Eaton Lighting Systems team was invited to make a presentation to the design team for Coca-Cola Arena working in conjunction with DAR – and its sub-consultant, NSW-based Webb Australia.

Eaton Lighting Systems’ Project Manager, Peter Coles was involved from the design stage to the final delivery. The company was responsible for supplying the sports and events lighting packages and control systems in line with the tender requirements.

The 74 Ephesus Arena Pro Colour Tuneables that make-up the primary sports lighting package needed to be expandable to allow the arena to be used for multiple sports events across large, medium or small sections of the venue. For the small section of the arena, the equipment had to meet the required lighting levels for tennis, basketball, volleyball, table tennis and badminton. This is provided by the Arena Pro Colour Tuneables. For the medium to large area, Eaton simply provided overlay points so that fixtures can be installed later, as and when the requirement arises.

For lighting control, which not only looks after all the Eaton Lighting System fixtures, but also the 104 Arena Luci 160 DMX LED Profile units that are in place for the aisle lighting, a Zero 88 FLX console takes centre stage. There is also an architectural control system that facilitates controlling lights from the building management system, touchscreens located in the security room, the VOC room, or via an app for day-to-day operations.

The main catwalk has an IP based DMX system running on a dedicated IP fibre network that enables control of all the sports and arena lighting either via the architectural control system, or via the in-house FLX lighting console.

Completing the lighting package are six Lycian M2 long-throw 2,500W spots and a movable platform that can be positioned according to the event mode. These, as well as all the other lighting fixtures are now the responsibility of Goran Salkovic, Head of Lighting, and his team at the arena.

Another company with an existing relationship is Tripleplay. For the Coca-Cola Arena, Tripleplay was responsible for providing the software and hardware platform, as well as using its extensive experience to advise on where to install screens, what type of screens to use and general knowledge on how to maximise the user and commercial experience in the stadium.

The Tripleplay products that have been installed at the arena include TripleTV for IPTV, TripleSign for digital signage, TripleCare for management and monitoring and a range of HD and 4k players behind the screens.

With so much technology packed into one space, and with nothing else like it in the region, it won’t come as a surprise to know that the arena is already starting to get booked up. The need for an indoor venue capable of hosting sports, as well as concerts to avoid the hot and humid conditions outside, has existed for a long time, and it has finally been delivered to spectacular effect.