After five years of planning and construction, Dickies Arena, a new state-of-the-art, 14,000-seat multipurpose venue in the City of Fort Worth’s Cultural District, opened its doors on October 26, ushering in a new era of sports and live events. As the home of the iconic Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, Dickies Arena will host NCAA basketball tournaments, gymnastics, collegiate and professional ice hockey, major concert events, family events, and more.
The technology centerpiece of this world-class sports and entertainment venue is an L-Acoustics sound system comprising K Series and A Series elements, combining into the single largest arena sound system in L-Acoustics history.
Two dedicated systems were integrated: one for the Dickies Arena Main Bowl, and one for the adjacent Simmons Bank Pavilion, a multiuse exhibition and meeting space. The systems were installed by Fort Worth-based AV systems integrator and L-Acoustics Certified Provider Electro-Acoustics. System design and oversight were provided by the AV design consultants at WJHW in collaboration with Dickies Arena ownership, Trail Drive Management, and The Beck Group.
The sound system is truly impressive, hanging from a dedicated 80-foot-diameter motorized truss ring, encircling a massive center video display. The system consists of eight main arrays, each configured with eight K2 enclosures and four Kara elements. A beefy subwoofer system features four arrays of five KS28 dual-18-inch subs hung in a hypercardioid configuration and located in the cardinal positions.
Four A Series clusters (A15 Focus and A15 Wide) are integrated underneath the center video display for floor coverage. The system was designed using L-Acoustics Soundvision 3D modeling software, and is powered and processed by 38 LA12X and eight LA4X amplified controllers. A P1 processor is used for AVB distribution to the amplified controllers and provides console switching for touring events and guest consoles; all managed via L-Acoustics LA Network Manager software.
In addition to the main system, eight X12 short throw speakers are on hand as floor monitor wedges and for multiuse sound reinforcement, powered by an LA12X, and the front-of-house position benefits from a pair of self-powered 108P monitors.
Dickies Arena also features a 10,500-square-foot space in Simmons Bank Pavilion, plus 86,865 square feet of exhibit space that surrounds the Pavilion. One array on each end of the Pavilion delivers blanketed coverage to the full space. Each array is comprised of three ARCS Focus and one ARCS Wide, under two SB18m, all powered by two LA12X amplified controllers.
Bill Shaw, Assistant General Manager for Trail Drive Management Corp. at Dickies Arena, recalls the decision process around the venue’s sound system as critical. “This is intended to be a truly multipurpose venue, and our primary goal is to provide a premium experience, with audience engagement being the number one priority,” he explains. “We were also designing the system around our main tenant, the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, which will be doing 25 performances in 23 days every January to February, so we want them to be especially happy with the venue.”
Electro-Acoustics and WJHW conducted a bid for the venue’s sound equipment that included most of the industry’s widely regarded “rider-ready” systems. From that process, L-Acoustics emerged as the clear winner. “It was the best value and the best product,” says Shaw. “It represented an increased level of investment on our part, but it was well worth it.”
The new Dickies Arena is located in the middle of Fort Worth’s growing cultural district, which also features world-class museums, including the Kimbell Art Museum, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and many more.
“So the new arena also had to meet that world-class criteria,” says Electro-Acoustics President and Chief Steward Chris Jordan. “Fort Worth is ‘where the West starts,’ and the importance of this arena being the host to the rodeo can’t be understated, but we are also helping to fulfill Fort Worth’s ambition to be one of the most music-friendly cities in the world. The sound for Dickies Arena would have to cover a lot of bases, and cover them well, so we backed L-Acoustics.”
In addition to concerts—Twenty-One Pilots recently was the first, on November 8, followed soon after by The Black Keys, “King of Country” George Strait, and other headliners—the new venue will also host the 2020-2022 American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championships, the 2020-2022 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, and the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball First and Second Rounds.
Jordan says the diversity of the events at the new arena and the fact that each type will reconfigure its seating—for instance, it will hold 14,000 for concerts, 13,300 for basketball, and 9,300 for rodeo performances—meant that L-Acoustics was the perfect fit.
“The main concern was directivity and coverage, and the K2 arrays and cardioid-configured subs are the best combination to assure that the sound stays on the seats, wherever they are,” he says. “And the sound levels are consistent from seat to seat, no matter where you are in the venue. Plus, the tonality of the system is just unbelievable. This venue truly picked a winner when it picked L-Acoustics.”