Live From Super Bowl LVI: Devlin Design Group Handles Creative Direction of FanDuel Studio Set on Radio Row
The Pat McAfee Show is the flagship program produced on the set
Every year, the host city turns into a melting pot of content creators for Super Bowl Radio Row. As the tide of legalized sports betting continues to rise, FanDuel is occupying a large amount of real estate at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The sports-betting behemoth recruited the services of Devlin Design Group to create an eye-catching studio set for programs like The Pat McAfee Show and The Early Line.
“The brilliant collaboration with FanDuel, Freeman, our scene shop, and lighting directors enabled us to pull a giant rabbit out of the hat execution,” says Dan Devlin, owner/chief creative strategist, Devlin Design Group. “Our team is honored to be a part of FanDuel’s Super Bowl LVI success.”
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From Drawing Board to Convention Hall: Crew Works With FanDuel on Initial Stages
With the set changing FanDuel’s presence at the biggest professional football game of the year, it’s important to understand the steps that led to the finished product. Prior to the conclusion of the 2021-22 NFL regular season, Devlin Design Group was approached by FanDuel. After preliminary discussions in November to fulfill the role of overall design and scenic management, the company officially signed on board on Dec. 5. With a relatively quick turnaround time to begin the installation process on Feb. 2 in Los Angeles, the final phase of brainstorming was one of the most difficult tasks to overcome.
“Due to the extremely compressed schedule,” says Devlin, “the planning process was very challenging. Design, review, revisions, and approval time frames were very tight due to the production timeline. Typically, we would have six to eight months to prepare for a show of this magnitude and visibility, but we got it done in a little over two months.”
The shortened schedule affected preparations at the convention center. It particularly altered the timeline of Freeman, the building’s management team, which was responsible for truss and platform design, rigging, and rental; AV design, rental, and integration; electrical design and installation; and installation labor.
“Creatively, we had to rely upon working within Freeman’s rental assets as a design-resource pool,” Devlin explains. “With two major holidays and an early January load-in date, there was not enough time to buy truss, electronics, furniture, build riser platforms, and line up installation labor.”
Exterior circumstances played a role as well. Devlin Design Group had to develop an approach that effectively balanced the brands of FanDuel and its shows. Once a concept was arrived at, Devlin Design Group needed the blessing of the NFL and needed to accommodate the interview-style shows that would call the set home.
“Our team and FanDuel had to adopt a shoot-from-the-hip approach in the design-development process,” Devlin adds. “We made certain that the layout allowed for a host and up to four guests and encouraged lively conversation. FanDuel wanted the set to be open and let fans enjoy the live productions, so sightlines were very important.”
The Plan’s Execution: Concept Turns Into Brick-and-Mortar Set
As operations shifted to the West Coast, the onsite team faced its own set of constraints. Since other companies would be exhibiting their large-scale Super Bowl plans, the initial drawing needed to come to life and fit in a 30- x 30-ft. footprint. Through the work of Scenic Solutions, lighting direction by Remote Production Services’ Bill Holshevnikoff, and lighting programming by Scott Webb, the pieces began coming together.
“We started by engineering the grid truss and platform infrastructures and factored in the technical broadcast requirements, weight loads, lighting, electronics, and AV integration,” says Devlin. “Lastly, we dressed it up to give it the look that FanDuel wanted us to provide.”
Overall, FanDuel wanted the set to have an overwhelming presence in the convention hall. With the help of 35 55-in. monitors, the structure was able to highlight the various shows taking place on the stage.
“The set’s visual branding was achieved in large-format prints, which covered the massive truss structure needed for the lighting grid and display-tech support,” he says. “FanDuel wanted to make sure fans were able to find their location from any point in the hall.”
A Successful Project and a Noteworthy Accomplishment
With a full slate of programming — The Early Line, The Morning After, Pat McAfee Show, Hammer Dahn, More Ways to Win, and some other forms of social-media content — FanDuel has entertained a packed convention center and listeners from around the world. Despite the long nights that came with developing the idea and the long hours it took to bring it to life, the physical set has grabbed the attention of the individuals who have used it.
“FanDuel and its broadcast partners are thrilled with the result,” says Devlin. “Across the board, on every show, the guests and talent have had been extremely gracious and complimentary of what we did for FanDuel.”
Devlin Design Group has been involved in new builds and renovation projects across the industry, including a new set at Tennis Channel’s Santa Monica, CA, facility. It has a proven track record, but being able to work on a set featured in the lead-up to Super Bowl LVI is a noteworthy accomplishment.
“Because we’ve had our heads down and focused on completing this project,” says Devlin, “we honestly haven’t given a lot of thought about working at the Super Bowl until now. The magnitude of it is just starting to sink in.”