One-of-a-Kind Tension Grid Transforms Long Beach Arena

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Long Beach ArenaBringing unprecedented flexibility and ease of use to a decades-old sports arena space takes vision, imagination, and the ability to see new possibilities. That’s what Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, brought to the table for the transformation of Long Beach Arena.

To execute the innovative system the design team conceived—and to turn the job around in less than a year—the City of Long Beach selected J. R. Clancy, Inc.

Today the arena accommodates concerts, sporting events, fashion shows, lectures, receptions, dinners, large-scale performances, and more. At the heart of the design is the largest flying truss and tension grid system in the United States. The one-of-a-kind movable grid system changes the antiquated arena into a grand ballroom or a series of smaller spaces, as clients and events required.

“With a full truss system and curtains, you have the ability to have a full house, a third house, or a two-thirds house,” said Charlie Beirne, general manager of Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center through SMG, the nationwide facilities management company. “We can do receptions, we can do pop concerts, we can do auto shows with individual lights on the autos. This breathes new life into an existing space.”

Achieving the Height of Flexibility

The tension grid panels are flown in with three big hoists, each of the hoists with a capacity of 84,000 pounds. These allow the tension grid to travel from floor level to a storage position sixty feet above the floor.

In addition to the capacity for lighting and sound equipment, the grid holds perimeter and divider curtains that help configure the arena space into smaller event areas. Eight of these perimeter curtains form a complete oval around the floor space.

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The entire system can be controlled from a simple interface developed by J. R. Clancy specifically for this project. Using the wireless pendant controller, an operator can raise and lower the grid sections from anywhere in the ballroom. Changeovers that once required a large crew can now be done in a matter of minutes—raising or lowering the ceiling, lowering the draperies, and changing the lighting to create the desired atmosphere for the next event.

For more information about J. R. Clancy and its capabilities for designing and executing custom projects, visit, or call (800) 836-1885.

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