How Technology Has Optimized Chase Center Security and Operations

Andy Berg Headshot
[Photo courtesy of Chase Center]
[Photo courtesy of Chase Center]

At first glance, San Francisco's new Chase Center is an 18,000-seat venue that serves as the new home of the NBA's Golden State Warriors. Look a little closer, however, and you'll understand the project's overarching aim to meld with the surrounding city in a meaningful way.

Aside from the arena, the facility also contains 580,000 square feet of office and lab space, 100,000 square feet of retail space, more than 950 parking spaces, and 3.2 acres of plaza and public space. Chase Center's website describes the venue, which is situated in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood, as "a world-class sports and entertainment destination; home to a championship team, tremendous culinary scene, engaging retail, and the world's most innovative companies."

Given its complexities, the state-of-the-art facility and campus are by necessity exemplary in their use of technology and automation for building management and security. A look at how things came together reveals the integral role of technology in Chase Center's inception.

Challenges overcome
Michael Sciortino, vice president of operations for the Warriors and Chase Center, explains that the arena's location atop a parking garage and the 29 individual retail units to which it is attached, as well as two on-site office buildings, make it an interesting challenge for operators.

"When we go into event mode and look at how that effects the retail partners that we have on site — and although the office tenants haven't moved in yet — we're planning for having another 5,000 people on the property every single day," explains Sciortino. "Then we're navigating that against 18,000 people coming to a Warriors game that night and keeping the building safe in terms of access control with the shared garage. And then of course from a building control standpoint, the entire thing is one big challenge."

While the arena and the attached offices and retail spaces primarily operate on separate systems, Sciortino says that collaboration among the different stakeholders has been essential to envisioning a safe and comfortable venue.

"It's not just this round building that we just have security cameras outside shooting our entrances," he says. "Having the ability to see everywhere is a necessity. There are many different doors and all of them are secure. Having the ability to control the access and then to see everywhere is obviously very important."

Chase Center is monitored from a single unified command center that's staffed 24/7.

"From a building control standpoint, we have another location in the engineering shop," Sciortino says. "That's where we'll work controlling all the air flow in the building and monitoring all the alarms and equipment that make this place what it is."

Tech first
Technology partners assisting with a project that amounts to a sports and entertainment district — as opposed to a single venue — were integral to its success.

Jim Nannini, vice president of technology and solutions engineering for North America at Johnson Controls, which provided much of the digital operations and security systems for Chase Center, says his company was involved early in the design process, which allowed his team to better understand the goals for the facility.

"With these types of projects, each client starts with their actual desired outcomes," Nannini says. "For this venue, those desired outcomes were really centered around three areas: the comfort of the participants, fans, players, employees and community; the security of the building; and the sustainability of the elements, including the construction and ongoing life-cycle of the facility itself."

Nannini says that early involvement of a digital technologies provider has become critical and commonplace for large sporting and entertainment venues, as project organizers tend to get tunnel vision when it comes to the physical design of the facility while overlooking the building's underlying infrastructure.

In many cases, advancements in technology have forced previously siloed aspects of design, such as temperature control and security, to become intertwined, making it all the more critical to the overall design of the facility.

"A lot of meetings take place in a stadium venue," Nannini says. "It's now a reality where you can leverage your security cameras to be able to identify how many people are in that meeting room, and then you're sending that data to the HVAC system to be able to treat the environmental aspect of cooling and heating."

High-end tech is also responsible for providing a comfortable environment for players and staff who spend much of their time at the venue. "Frictionless access control is using facial recognition," Nannini says. "That's for both players and the staff. That's the same situation at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. I think that's a pretty typical application of technology that we're seeing throughout most stadiums these days."

On the sustainability side of operations, Chase Center will host an estimated 200 events a year, each putting unique demands on the facility. That said, idle time needs to be managed efficiently, as well. Given the systems that Johnson Controls has helped build into Chase Center, operators don't have to service the whole building for temperature control or lighting when only a small portion of the venue is in use.

Nannini says that in some instances it's even possible to provide the operator with insights into what a particular event is costing the venue. "Let's say it's a concert and it's heavy on power and lighting, we're able to provide that information back to the ownership team or the developer from an operation standpoint, and they can base their billing off of the utilization of utilities."

Anticipating the future
These are just a few of the ways helpful technology has been built into Chase Center in an effort to meet the operator's core goals. However, gadgetry evolves at quite a clip, and project planners have to design for a facility to evolve right alongside the technology or risk early obsolescence.

Scortino gives an example of technology that maybe isn't quite there yet but that he thinks we'll see in the near future. "I see technology coming to the marketplace where you can track and search the last few hours of all of the footage that you have for a red bag, pull all that out and then quickly identify who brought that in and where it came from," he says. "And you can do that just hours and hours quicker than we can now."

Nannini says that being there at the start of a project is exactly what allows his team to ensure the design of a facility is flexible enough to anticipate improvements in technology as they arise.

"Part of our partnership with the owner team is a focus on that life-cycle aspect," he says. "Putting our name on this project, we want to make sure that the stadium is not just state of the art for the first year, but three, five, eight years down the road."

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Technology’s role in Chase Center operations and security." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


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