28 August 2020
Kendal RUFC’s move away from its home for nearly a century was always going to attract considerable interest and great expectations from the local communities, given the investment in a dedicated new state-of-the-art £8m stadium.
The new Mintbridge Stadium sits just a stone’s throw from the old ground, but the new facilities are light years ahead of the Club’s historic home. The old ground was historically referred to by Kendal’s supporters as a ‘northern fortress’ and modern incarnation is certainly an imposing and impressive site.
Along with the expected facilities for playing teams, Mintbridge is also a function venue with its own commercial restaurant kitchen and bars servicing the lounge bar and Kentdale Suite with a capacity for around 200 guests. For players and public, there is a new gymnasium with personal training and physiotherapy also available.
A modern, busy and versatile stadium that caters for both the sporting and business ambitions of the Club and community, yet one with diverse and dedicated IT solutions.
Adam Blamire is the lead engineer at iTek Computer Solutions and, as well as being a supporter of KRUFC, was instrumental in much of the design, installation and support of the IT systems at Mintbridge Stadium.
“This was in the very earliest stages of the project, so we weren’t exactly providing costs for defined requirements, we were designing an entire stadium’s IT infrastructure from the ground up.”
iTek’s proposal was accepted, but it wasn’t until the stadium was nearing completion that they were called upon to install and commission their system.
“It was quite a different project for us as we didn’t inherit anything, it really was a blank canvas. Although we had been able to advise, inform and provide our input on what was needed during the planning stages it was pretty much the eleventh hour when we got on-site.”
“That said, being involved at an early stage meant that when we were scheduled to undertake the installation everyone knew the plan and it was a relatively quick project to complete, given the size of the site.”
The specification for the stadium was one which evolved from conversations with the Mintbridge team, with requirements understood and plenty of foresight provided by iTek to help ensure any system could be as future proof as possible and allow for integration with a diverse array of external hardware and software.
The list of equipment and services provided by iTek is extensive and includes new PCs, servers and networking throughout the site with robust security systems and firewall protection. The many email accounts required by such a large operation are also hosted by iTek, again, with high levels of cyber security.
“Security is paramount, especially with multiple businesses and operations on-site so we built their server so that different people have access to specific areas, with appropriate permissions and passwords etc.”
It is anticipated that on bigger match days there will be around 2,000 supporters at the ground, all potentially wanting to access the stadium’s Wi-Fi.
“We set-up Wi-Fi for both corporate and guests – on match day, or events and weddings, the internet will take some real hammer, so we proposed a dedicated line as a solution. We worked in consultancy with the team at Mintbridge to specify what was required and helped negotiate with Zen Internet on the installation of the service. What’s now in place delivers speeds of 100Mb both up and down and offers 100% up-time.”
The firewall put into place around this and IT perimeter security (inbound and outbound) means that staff and supporters can enjoy quick and safe access to the web, wherever they are on the site.
“The Wi-Fi coverage is impressive and can be accessed from anywhere on site, including the far side of the all-weather training pitches over 100 metres away from the main stadium.”
Staff training was also provided as part of the hand-over, the ‘user acceptance’ stage confirming that everyone was happy with the new IT in all its different guises.
With so many different third-party systems and hardware on the site, it was critical that iTek’s network could ‘talk’ to everything, from the pitch-side electronic scoreboard to the front gate ticketing system and everything in-between.
Even the stadium’s VOIP phone system has been provided by iTek. “It’s not something we’d consider a core service, but we have supplied and installed for a number of businesses; I have to say it’s something we do very well. Of course, a decent broadband connection and good networking is key, but get the right system and it becomes a very cost-effective solution for any business.” adds Ben Mitchinson, MD at iTek Computer Solutions.
“Our ongoing service for Mintbridge Stadium invariably means we help support other supplier’s hardware; it may not be something that we have supplied but if there is an issue then we are happy to get involved and work to provide a fix.” continues Ben, “We can test if our systems are working fine and help identify any issue beyond there, it’s all part of the service.”