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​Audio-Visual Setups for Sports Venues

​Audio-Visual Setups for Sports Venues

Posted by Laura Strommen - SoundPro on Jun 9th 2023

Estimated Reading Time: 9 Minutes

When we talk about audio-visual equipment, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a concert—an application where the music and spectacle are front and center. But AV setups are equally vital for other forms of entertainment, such as sports events. Coordinating audio and video feeds not only ensures the fans stay up-to-the-second with what their favorite team is doing, but AV is also a way to add pizazz between the plays.

In general, there are two types of unsung heroes of sports events that use AV to accomplish these dual roles of vital communication and immersive entertainment:

  1. The contractors and integrators who are responsible for designing, installing, or upgrading a venue’s space.
  2. The end-users who work the live events by orchestrating music and promotional spots from sponsors, as well as performing other tasks in real-time.


In recent years, sports stadiums have been hosting more concerts and renting out to other events, so in many ways, sports setups are becoming more like other AV installations. It is beneficial to venue owners because it presents new opportunities for what types of events they can host in the off-season. However, this also poses some additional challenges and complications to contractors and integrators, who now need to take more things into account and try to anticipate the needs of even more applications outside of sports events.

As for end-users, the similarities of the gear that’s used for concerts and sports can be a boon, because the equipment (such as mixing boards, consoles, etc.) should be familiar to FOH users. That said, there are additional complications when it comes to coordinating a sports event, as end-users must juggle the set demands of marketing—such as fitting in sponsored ads—while also following the flow of the game itself.

AV in sports can be very impulsive, with fewer opportunities to prepare. Where concerts often have a minute-by-minute plan with little wiggle room for changes, a sports “show” is affected by how the game unfolds. If you’re managing a game that’s televised, you’ll have the added factor of fitting in TV spots.


Setting up an AV System from Scratch

Integrators need to focus on what the needs of the sport are, but keep in mind the flexibility of hosting other events that are becoming the norm. Do your best to think for your client, who may have a general idea of what they want but may not know the specifics of how to achieve those goals. Design something that will cover the needs of multiple types of audiences, events, and users. Look for multi-use products not only for keeping to a budget, but also ease-of-use for fewer people to train. This will enable the venue to cross-train their staff so they can use the same people for a concert as for their sports events.

Upgrading an Existing AV System

While contractors and integrators are hired to create AV systems from scratch, they’re just as likely to be tasked with working on a preexisting AV system. This might involve upgrading or replacing old gear, retrofitting a system because the venue’s needs have changed, or fixing a setup that wasn’t properly designed or installed in the first place.

Contractor/Integrator Challenges

Even if you’re able to design the perfect setup, your client gets the final say on your proposal. This means you not only have to work within the parameters of a client’s budget, but also what they understand to be their needs. Sometimes engineers will know the technology, but someone more familiar with production or the front end will understand the needs of performance, so it’s important to look at designs from both perspectives.

No matter the size of a venue or its AV setup, contractors/integrators and their clients may fall into a misconception of designing a setup where all the gear works together seamlessly, but there is no margin for “wild card” components: the audience and the performers. The human element can change how shows unfold and should not be afterthoughts.

Consider the view of the audience, or whether performers/game-day operators have what they need to do the best at their jobs. For instance, a particular workstation may need a view of the stadium to help sync its workflow with what’s happening on the field. Without that view, they would be at the mercy of someone else to tell them something’s gone wrong or isn’t working as intended, which could detract from the quality of the audience’s experience.


End-users who run sports events tend to fall into two types: people that love sports, and people that crave the work experience. Some end-users simply love the improvisation and energy of working at a sports event. Others are looking to add versatility to their gigging resume or fill out their schedule between concert seasons. Additionally, the skillsets and responsibilities of end-users will probably vary from venue to venue, as well as station to station—depending on whether you’re a sound engineer, talent such as a DJ or other performer, and so on.

No matter what type of end-user you are, knowing as much as possible about the venue, its gear setup, your responsibilities, and the particular “show” you’ll be running will help you anticipate what you’re walking into. Learn about the venue first in any capacity. What does your station have? Do you need to bring anything? Production meetings will usually take place to put together a “script” of what’s happening. Always get as much information about these scripts, asking questions and getting clarification, as far in advance as possible.

When Do You Need to Bring Gear?

In an ideal world, your sports venue set up its AV system correctly in the first place, so you should be able to walk into your gig without bringing anything yourself. Unfortunately, as we saw when discussing contractor/integrator challenges, this is not always the case. Whether it’s because of some miscommunication or misunderstanding on the client’s end, or whether the original integrator didn’t anticipate certain needs, it’s not uncommon for end-users to need to adapt to less-than-perfect setups. It’s better to come prepared, bring gear that you know you can’t do without, and come early to get set up how you know you work best.

There’s also the aspect of having gear that you’re familiar with, or that fits your personal preference. If you’re a sound engineer, for instance, you may want to bring headphones—either because a venue doesn’t have enough, or because the ones they do provide aren’t as comfortable as what you already have. The same goes for a performer bringing in-ear monitors (IEMs).

Basic Gear for End-Users at Sports Events

Especially if you’re traveling to a gig, it’s important to find a balance between bringing all you need without bringing too much. Trying to minimize your packing list to one case (for gear) and one gig bag or backpack (for personal items) will help reduce headaches at airport security and prevent you from having a cluttered workspace when you get to the event itself.

  • Standard headphones or earphones, according to preference
  • Laptop, particularly if you’re using a track library. It’s also useful for last-minute internet searches, keeping a tab open of the show’s schedule and information, etc.
  • If you’re familiar with the venue’s intercom, an intercom headset can ensure you have something that fits comfortably during the entire show)
  • Gig bag, gear bag, case, etc. for toting personal stuff such as snacks, water, medicine—anything you may need close at hand in your workstation.
  • A hard case if you’re bringing equipment. You want something lightweight but sturdy (TSA-rated), compact enough to take on a plane with you. You can get a “generic” case with dice-perforated foam, which you can cut to fit all your equipment for a custom-padded case for your specific gear set.

End-User Challenges

If (and when) you bring gear to a gig, make sure to check with the venue to see if they have quality requirements. The gear you’ll find at a high school vs. a professional football stadium, for example, will have varying standards.

Another critical point to be aware of when running a sports event is the sponsorships, promotions, and other marketing angles. You need to know who’s paying for the event, and what they want. This can affect the lineup, sometimes making specific songs, videos, and images off-limits for an entertainer to use due to branding and licensing constraints, while other content might be dated or inappropriate for specific sponsors. Again, fact-finding about this ahead of time can help you avoid these potential pitfalls while you’re in the moment, thus reducing the amount of pressure and streamlining your process.


If you’re interested in working sports events, the first thing to work on is getting your foot in the door—even if that first gig is for a sport you’re not personally interested in. Once you’ve worked at one facility, that will open opportunities for other types of sports. While each sport will have different needs, the general “sports event” experience provides versatile knowledge on how to produce for these types of events. For contractors and integrators, it’s a chance to create multi-use facilities that will enable clients to host a wide range of events, from traditional sports audiences to corporate meetings, concerts, festivals, and more. For FOH users who already have experience working in live entertainment such as concerts, adding sport event experience can help fill your schedule with not only touring and concert gigs, but running sports events, or even other events that take place at sports venues.

For more information on how to design and install AV for sports, upgrade an existing setup, or gear you can bring to a sports gig, reach out to the experts at Sound Productions. Our knowledgeable Account Managers can be reached at or 800.203.5611.

Written by the SoundPro Staff

Edited by Laura Strommen, Web Content Specialist

Special thanks to Account Manager Derrick Ramirez!