Live From CFP Championship: Van Wagner, Arizona Cardinals Unite To Rock University of Phoenix Stadium
With multiple Super Bowls, Fiesta Bowls, Pro Bowls, and BCS Championship Games under its belt, University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, is no stranger to the spotlight. Having opened in 2006, the massive facility quickly established itself as one of the nation’s premier destinations for mega sports events.
Mike Conner, director of videoboard and event production for the stadium’s primary tenant, the Arizona Cardinals, still gets a special charge before each event, including, for the first time, tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
“This a phenomenal event for us,” says Conner, “because this stadium and this control room were designed not just for Cardinals games but for soccer, high school graduations, high school football games, and mega events like the Fiesta Bowl and National Championship Games. So this is really exciting for us.”
The Cardinals’ video team is supporting the in-venue video production headed up by the content developer, Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment (VWSE) Productions, which is producing a 90-minute pregame show; building stadium-rocking highlight videos; designing large, crisp graphics; and more.
For more from the 2016 CFP National Championship Game:
ESPN’s Massive Efforts Eclipse Super Bowl Benchmarks
Megacast Puts Innovations Front and Center
Pylon Cam Gets Full Deployment in Glendale
SportsLabs Powers In-Stadium Mobile App
Fletcher Sports Supports ESPN With Robotics
VWSE Productions has rolled in three edit bays to continue graphics and content editing all the way up to the opening and kickoff and throughout the game. The control room’s Evertz router offers a seamless integration for VWSE Productions equipment to dial right in to the Ross Video XPression graphics system inside the control room.
Bob Becker, EVP, VWSE Productions, likes to call University of Phoenix Stadium his home away from home. In addition to the top-of-the-line staff, it’s the graphics capabilities in particular that Becker loves so much about working at UofP Stadium.
“The Cardinals staff do graphics better than any other stadium in America,” he says. “We’re always excited coming here because we get to use it for our events. They give us a full broadcast-caliber package with the talented people and equipment that they have here. It really adds a whole level to what we do.”
The vivid graphics are a badge of honor for Conner and his team with the Cardinals.
“We study all of the network broadcasts and look at what they put on because that’s the fan’s other option: stay home and watch that,” says Conner. “When [the fan] comes to the stadium, our goal is to show everything they would get at home and give them extra that they won’t get at home.”
University of Phoenix Stadium features two large videoboards, one in each end zone. The newest, located in the south end zone, is a 13HD display that measures 58 ft. high by 164 ft. wide. The board offers variable content zoning that allows the team in the control room to go full screen on live video and instant replays but also window-off sections of the board for various graphics, statistics, or advertisements.
The stadium’s cutting-edge control room is built around the Ross Video Acuity switcher and Evertz DreamCatcher replay servers, which Conner calls the biggest innovation his team has brought into the workflow over the past handful of years. As noted, the facility works off two Ross Video four-channel XPression graphics servers and a multiviewer and an expanded Evertz EQX router.
A new intercom system from Riedel and a DiGiCo SD10 console have been other key upgrades in the control room. In addition, there are Grass Valley K2 Summit media servers, Christie Spyder X20 video processor, AJA Video Systems Ki Pro recorders, and Ikegami monitors.