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The story begins with Prairie Meadows Race Track, a bankrupt race track in 1991 in Des Moines, Iowa when something magical happened. In 1994 the Iowa State Legislature passed some laws allowing gaming in the state, allowing everything with the exception of table games, which ment a whole new life for Prairie Meadows.

The Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino has become the first of a new kind of venue - it is the first "Racino" in the entire country, spawning a whole new concept in racetrack casinos of the future. Bob Gorla, Director of Facilities at Prairie Meadows relates, "We were the first race track in the country to become a "Racino" which of course is a Racetrack/Casino. By November of 1996 we were so successful that we paid off our entire debt."

In 2000 the first expansion project began, a 50.000 sqft. addition consisting of office areas, a new entrance, and about 23.000 sqft. of casino floor. The current expansion which is a $60M project comprises a new paddock and jockey's building for the racing side, a 2000.000 sqft. event center, a buffet, fine dining restaurant, and expanded casino floor space. In the interim time since obtaining their first gaming permit at Prairie Meadows, the laws in Iowa changed and they were able to pick up table games with this new expansion. Ironically, the only thing theycan't do in Iowa now is sports betting, which of course, doesn't include horse or dog racing.

The event center opened for business on the first day of December 2005. The construction period was very short, in the neighborhood of 18 months, which included the large casino addition, the largest kitchen in the state of Iowa, a large buffet area for 380 people, and a large high-end five star steakhouse. With 1750 slot machines from one cent to one hundred dollar machines. Texas Hold'em, Blackjack, Pai Gow, Craps, and Roulette, as well as thoroughbred, quarter horse, and harness racing, Prairie Meadows now offers all the gaming that is legal to offer in the state of Iowa.


One of the features at Prairie Meadows that was a part of the newest expansion was a multi-purpose space that could easily be broken down into individual meeting rooms for corporate clients, or returned to one large space for use as an entertainment venue for concerts, comedians, and Brodway style stage shows. The Casino hired the engineering firm of Shive Hattery Co. to design this space, with Terry Williamson from Shive Hattery as the senior electrical engineer, responsible for the design of the building and guidelines for all the owner's expectations for these spaces.

Des Moines needed a high-end corporate meeting and concert venua. The Meadows Ballroom is over 14.100 sqft. of function space with a 3000 sqft. stage. The front two rooms of the entertainment complex are the large rooms (Ballroom A & B at 45000 sqft. each) with the back room (Ballroom C) divided into three individual smaller rooms (salon 1,2 & 3) which gives a total of five individual spaces. The large space can be divided up into five individual spaces with large moving doors, and has a stage at one end that is 50' wide by 40' deep with valance curtains. There are a number of kinds of lighting systems in the space, chiefly because of the multi-use nature of the space, but also because the specifications called for the room to be equipped for about 80% corporate event and special trade show use. Each of the five individual spaces is controlled by a Crestron control system and has its own Crestron touch screens allowing control of the individual space, or when the space is opened up allows control of the entire space. Relates Scott Davidson of AVI,

"The Crestron TP-MC10 touch panels are in each of the spaces to remotely control the systems, and what is nice with the programming set up is that they can rent the space all for one price complete, or they can actually 'a la carte' different features in the room for a breake-out price structure. The system can be set up remotely and then the function is displayed on the touch panel in the room for ease of use."

The stage has its own lighting system, including a large truss system over the stage that lowers to just above the stage level, allowing outside companies to come in and install their own custom lighting systems for individual shows, as well as a front of house truss that lowers to allow custom sound system installation for touring shows. The trusses are all J.R. Clancy cable winch systems, and there are a number of individual pick points allowing special pieces of equipment to be hung from the structure which spans the 25' ceiling height. The truss systems were installed under a separate contract through Bilfer Stage in Minneapolis.

The stage lighting system has a full 40 channel dimming system and an all ETC sensor rack for the main room. We have a trench system in the main floor of the casino that allows cabling for multi-conductor snakes along the center core of the room up and onto either side of the stage for five live event control. Since the system was put in, a number of lighting systems have been installed for use at corporate and stage events. With the addition of the ballroom it was noticed that there wasn't an easy way to accomplish load-ins efficiently for the ever changing shows and entertainment tours. A unique solution was found with the help of the engineering firm.

Terry Williamson, Senior Electrical Engineer for Shive Hattery relates, "On the stage there is a 5000 lb platform lift allowing loading into the building from the north east corner loading docks making it simpler for semi trucks. The platform lift brings them right up onto the stage platform, making the load-in so much easier then in the past." Terry continues, "The room is a highly finished room, not like a normal auditorium, and with a such a high level of floor, wall, and ceiling finishes it lends itself to a lot of fairly elaborate corporateevents. It will seat approximately 1200 people for a stage event, approximately 800 for sit down dining. There is a large kitchen adjacent that allows for food preparation for 10000 - 12000 people per day. There is a pre-function area to the west side of this room that allows for trade show folk to set up boots and allows gathering before going into differnet meetings in the break-uot meeting rooms."

Weitz Construction was the general contractor for the project, Baker Electric was the electrical contractor, Waldinger Corporation was the mechanical contractor on the last part of the project, and Baker Group was the mechanical contractor on the first portion of the project. AVI Corporation was a sub consultant to Shive Hattery, and was responsible under separate contract for all the audio and video systems, with Central Lighting and Equipment Company functioning as a sub to AVI that did the lighting design and truss design for the building. The electrical power systems for the casino are as unique as the facility itself.

Terry Williamson relates, "The power system for the whole casino is quite remarkable, it is using four double-ended 4k amp 480V services, and there is a fifth transformer that is able to be connected to any one of the four in the event that one of the four fails, so they have asked for a lot of redundancy in this facility. They have not gone to full generator back-up, but the system has four generators designed into the system that feed different parts of the facility, including food service protection, life safety, and track lighting."


The front of house system for the main stage is a line array system, a pair of Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC24 systems mounted just outside the proscenium with two Renkus-Heinz PN112 subwoofers. This system isn't really used as much for concerts, as most touring acts bring in their own systems or use local rentals, but they are perfect for large corporate events that utilize the entire space, and of course can be used for entertainment that is not touring with their own system.

BeamWare and EASE were used to model the room and configure the Iconyx arrays, and levels were checked with RTA. Ryan Dunn, the TV Manager for Prairie Meadows was one of the decision makers for the line array system. "In the early design stages of our Ballroom, I let it be to known to AVI Systems, Inc. that I wanted speakers that could fulfill any and all applications the room could support. The Iconyx systems has exceeded all of our expectations in this regard. The dynamic sound reproduction is second to none and the system is very user friendly."

The distributed ceiling speaker system consisting of Klipsch IC6T 6" 2-way ceiling speakers that run the basic program audio and voice lift, the systems are separate. All are separately controlled and equalized so they can contoured for use in each of the five individual spaces or combined into one large system for the entire open space.

The emergency feed from the casino is also implemented into the system via a Biamp Audiaflex system for life safety purposes, there is no casino general paging in those rooms. There is no large equipment room, with a separate rack for each space, and a head end rack that everything passes through when feeding from room to room. There are total of four racks. Crest 2204, 2208 and Crown CTS-8200 amplifiers are in use for the entire distributed system, the Renkus-Heinz Iconyx is self-powered.

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