Next-generation technology: EMG Italy completes extensive San Siro infrastructure overhaul

The Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, named after the legendary Italian footballer, also known as the San Siro due to the Milan district where it stands, is the largest sports facility in Italy and one of the largest in Europe by capacity.

Inaugurated in 1926, it is owned by the Municipality of Milan and managed by the M-I Stadio. Today it boasts 75,923 seats and is home to two teams, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

In addition to Serie A football, the venue also regularly hosts concerts and religious events, as well as Coppa Italia, Italian Super Cup, Champions League, Europa League, World Cup and European Championship matches.

Infrastructure renewal
Following an intensive design and construction period, EMG Italy has recently renewed the outdated audio, video and data infrastructure of the San Siro.

The work began at the conclusion of the 2022/23 Serie A football season and took more than five months, culminating in the successful testing of the solution in mid-November last year.

The new and advanced technological infrastructure was first utilised on 2 December 2023, for the television production of the Serie A match between AC Milan and Frosinone.

“We have redesigned the entire infrastructure,” says Francesco Donato, CTO of EMG Italy. “This project involved not only updating the cabling to current technological standards, but also considering new shooting formats that necessitate a different and more up-to-date configuration of the camera positions. The focus of modern storytelling is undoubtedly on maximising the spectacle of sporting events. Therefore, we have implemented new solutions and positions previously only achievable through additional temporary systems.

“This project involved not only updating the cabling to current technological standards, but also considering new shooting formats that necessitate a different and more up-to-date configuration of the camera positions”

“Furthermore, to facilitate connection with the shooting equipment located in the TV compound, we designed and installed all necessary terminations and active equipment within a designated container, ensuring optimal connectivity to and from the stadium. We have also implemented control solutions to verify the functionality of both the active and passive components that comprise the system infrastructure.”

He continues: “The new solution allows for the production of significant events from a narrative and technological complexity standpoint, while also enabling a rapid installation process for the camera positions and all necessary equipment for interviews.”

New setup
The setup incorporates 23 brand new internal camera positions within the stadium, along with an additional cabling termination point housed within a container located in the TV compound.

The cabling for the camera positions utilises SMPTE cables and dark fibre for all locations. Additionally, active devices for transporting video and audio signals were installed in specific positions. Finally, for a select few positions, copper connections were also created, to be used exclusively as a backup system.

The TV compound

The system is designed with a high degree of scalability to accommodate potential temporary expansions should the need arise for large-scale shooting configurations.

“There’s more,” adds Donato. “The new infrastructure has been designed to enable the future implementation of television production in ‘reverse’ mode. This would essentially allow for two simultaneous productions to be carried out if required, significantly increasing the commercial benefits due to doubled sponsor visibility.”

Project execution
EMG Italy, acting as the main contractor, oversaw all aspects of the engineering project and monitored the physical implementation by CRV Sistemi. Professional Show also played a crucial role by supplying the system’s active components.

Technical specifications
• 30km of cable (SMPTE and dark fibre)
• 60 SMPTE camera points
• 200 dark fibre connections
• 82 SDI-to-fibre and fibre-to-SDI video trunks
• 210 audio-to-fibre and fibre-to-audio trunks
• 30 trunks with media converters

Double security
“One of the fundamental objectives of this project,” emphasises Simone Sofia, technical resources manager at EMG Italy, who personally oversaw the construction, “was to guarantee absolute security for the system, which essentially meant achieving complete redundancy. This involved meticulously planning the cable routes between the shelter and wall boxes, ensuring dedicated pathways and avoiding any intersection with old conduits. Additionally, particular emphasis was placed on the redundancy of the electricity supply to ensure uninterrupted service for any event.”

Simone Sofia, technical resources manager at EMG Italy

The power supply is duplicated and feeds the shelter and wall boxes from both the stadium’s protected grid and a backup generator unit employed during events. The same principles apply to preventing malfunctions caused by excessively high temperatures.

The shelter housing all connections, located in the TV compound, operates at a constant, controlled temperature and humidity. All wall boxes are also equipped with internal ventilation that manages and maintains a consistent temperature when necessary, safeguarding the contained equipment even under direct sunlight and preventing potential equipment failures due to excessive heat.

EMG handles both the maintenance and daily management of the system, entrusting a technical supervisor with the responsibility of assisting broadcasters in setting up events, coordinating all active components of the system from a dedicated control station.

Reliability and rapid setup
The new system offers significant advantages in terms of both setup and operational efficiency. Additionally, it is fully modular and adaptable in terms of both utilisation and flexibility.

Donato concludes: “It is worth noting that this new configuration also allows the stadium to potentially implement technological advancements, develop in-venue communication and entertainment strategies, and adopt new service systems, such as 5G technology solutions that enable the capture and distribution of special content dedicated to audience entertainment.”

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