Project Profile: Campbell University’s John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center

Students at Campbell University, located in Buies Creek, NC, were used to playing basketball in the cramped Carter Gym on campus, which held just shy of 1,000 spectators. In 2008, however, the school announced plans to build a new athletic facility large enough to handle the growing number of athletes and their cheering fans. Plans for the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center called for a 106,000 square foot multi-use building housing a host of sports-related facilities and the 15,360 square foot Gilbert Craig Gore arena.

The arena is the heart of the facility and supports a variety of events, including basketball and volleyball games, gymnastics competitions, conferences and trade shows, as well as concerts, dinners and graduation ceremonies. The arena seats over 3,000 for sporting events, and over 5,000 for staged events. This wide array of uses required an audio system, designed by Thorburn Associates, that would be flexibility and easy to operate.

The main loudspeaker system consists of an exploded central cluster design with overhead court loudspeakers and stage end loudspeakers. The overhead court loudspeakers can be easily muted for court sports (such as basketball or volleyball) or activated for events where individuals on the court need to hear the audio (such as gymnastics or concerts).

At the stage end of the arena, full range loudspeaker arrays are located to the left and right of the stage. Audio from stage events is supported by the overhead system, aligned to maximize speech and music intelligibility.

A distributed loudspeaker system provides coverage throughout the concourse, restrooms and Viewing Suites (which have individual volume controls).

Audio signals are routed through a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) that delays and adjusts the electronic signal to different loudspeaker clusters based on the orientation of the room.

With the multitude of different events the facility hosts, a variety of different audio input sources were required. For court sports microphone and CD/MP3 inputs are available at the announcer’s table. A coaches’ practice table also contains microphone and CD/MP3 inputs. A lockable wall box contains a handheld microphone and input for music. For stage events, eight microphone inputs with remote volume controls are available. In order to minimize need for a sound system technician, a 16-channel automatic mixer is utilized when the sound booth manual controls are not staffed.

The completed facility now hosts hundreds of events annually both for the university and the surrounding community.