Tube & Pipe
Tuesday | 22 September, 2009 | 4:57 am


By Lisa Rummler

September 2009 - There’s something to be said about watching a football game from the comfort of your own home. You can sit in your favorite chair, snack on anything in the fridge and yell at referees for bad calls without strangers staring at you.

But for many, to truly experience football, you have to sit in the bleachers and cheer yourself hoarse alongside thousands of fellow fans. Somehow, beer and nachos taste better at a stadium, and nothing beats being able to watch the game in person, both as it plays out on the field and on oversized video screens.

And for those dedicated enough to paint themselves in their team’s colors, those electronic displays can be the ticket to their 15 minutes of fame.

There will be a lot of white and green faces and red and blue torsos early next year, when Meadowlands Stadium is scheduled to open in East Rutherford, N.J.

As the new home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, the open-air facility will replace Giants Stadium, where the teams currently play, and it will be a 50-50 partnership between both teams.

The state-of-the-art, $1.4 billion stadium will seat about 82,000 and include 217 luxury suites, according to an article in USA Today. Construction began in the fall of 2007.

Structurally sound
A critical component for many support structures at Meadowlands Stadium is steel hollow structural sections. Specifically, HSS is being used in the facility’s four video boards, 360-degree ribbon board and 10 entry towers.

Bill Wolfe, executive director of the Steel Tube Institute of North America, Coral Gables, Fla., says the primary difference between HSS and other structural products is its shape.

"Once you describe it as a tube, it defines the character of the product," he says. "Tubes have higher strength-to-weight ratios than other structural products. In many applications, the tubular product is vastly superior."

This tubular shape helps account for some of the product’s unique properties, such as its high torsional resistance and load-bearing capacity.

In addition, the attractive appearance of HSS allows users to employ it for exposed applications. HSS is also lighter than other structural products that offer the same strength, which can help reduce costs. "Because there’s less weight, and this is just an example, you could ship three truckloads of an HSS subassembly, where if you had to use other products, you might have to ship four or five trucks," says Wolfe.

Other benefits of HSS that he cites include efficient strength in both axes, fixed outer-geometric-section dimensions and efficiency in deflection criteria with reduced section height.

Meeting demand
For Daktronics Inc., Brookings, S.D., HSS is nearly always the product of choice for its applications. The company has designed and manufactured electronic scoreboards, programmable display systems and large-screen video displays with LED technology for myriad sporting venues, as well as for commercial, governmental and educational clients.

"The majority of our installations use some type of HSS support structure, from the Major League level all the way down to the high school level," says Mark Van Dyk, project engineer at Daktronics. "It seems to match up to our end products and different applications really well. If you can picture a baseball field, where you’ve got a scoreboard out in the right field, we’re using HSS as support elements--even in those smaller applications."

In the last year, Daktronics installed video boards in an oval configuration at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo., the home of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The company has also worked with the Indianapolis Colts, the Houston Texans and the Pittsburgh Steelers, among other NFL teams, as well as the University of Missouri, the University of Oklahoma and other colleges.

Let there be light
Daktronics started delivering materials to Meadowlands Stadium in the spring of 2008, and the company will wrap up its work this fall.

Van Dyk says HSS has been a boon throughout the process, especially in regard to a specific unique aspect of Meadowlands Stadium that required a great deal of eccentric and torsional loading capacity. He also says square, rectangular and round section properties are extremely efficient when it comes to resisting torsion.

"Instead of having one big video board on one side, they wanted to hit all quadrants of the stadium and installed curved [118-foot-by-30-foot] video boards in the four corners," says Van Dyk. "There’s no fan in the stadium who will be denied a view of a video board."

For Daktronics, it’s often important that it place support structures only in certain areas of the video boards. The use of HSS helps the company fulfill this requirement.

"Sometimes, we have minimal clear zones where we can locate HSS support structures," says Van Dyk. "We’re able to match that up on the back side of the cabinet and keep clear space [for] the electrical, ventilation and serviceability areas."

For Meadowlands Stadium, Daktronics also built and installed a 1,800-linear-foot ribbon board, which serves two purposes.

"It goes around the complete stadium, but it also acts as a handrail for one of the upper decks," says Van Dyk. "The HSS frame is welded to embedded plates located in precast concrete sections. The flat surfaces of HSS blend in almost seamlessly on the back side. Because it’s exposed--fans [will be] sitting right behind it--it has to have a nice, clean look."

In addition to the corner video screens and the ribbon board, Meadowlands Stadium will have two 4-foot-by-130-foot game-in-progress displays and two delay-of-game clocks.

Each LED system at Meadowlands Stadium is supported by HSS structures. And taken together, they make up one of the largest LED systems in the world.

Taking a stand
Daktronics also used HSS in the platform for Meadowlands Stadium’s 10 double-sided entry gate towers. Six of them are 38 feet by 20 feet, two are 54 feet by 20 feet and two are 18 feet by 32 feet.

"Architecturally, they were designed [to be] tall and slender," says Van Dyk. "To get these towers to work out, there was quite a bit of base structure that was required. We were able to come in with some lighter HSS platforms to match up to that particular base structure."

Most of the HSS products used at the stadium are 6-inch-by-4-inch rectangular shapes and 6-inch-by-6-inch squares. The handrails are made of 1.5-inch-by-1.5-inch tubing.

"HSS seems to be the product that always comes to the forefront to be able to meet our structural requirements, as well as meet the video board requirements, and we’re able to keep costs down versus other [products] that could possibly be used in that same application," says Van Dyk. "It always seems like HSS rises to the top and becomes a more efficient section to utilize in our support structure designs." MM

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