Live From THE PLAYERS Championship: PGA TOUR Lays Out Vision for New Media Facility

Opening in 2025, massive PGA TOUR Studios will have seven studios, eight control rooms

With THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass attracting PGA TOUR partners, media, and fans to one of golf’s legendary courses, it made perfect sense for PGA TOUR Media this week to give tours of PGA TOUR Studios, a 165,000-sq.-ft. media facility located next door to the course. Still under construction, the state-of-the-art facility is far enough along to give members of the media and the industry a sense of what it will be when the doors open in January.

The new facility will house PGA TOUR media operations not only for PGA TOUR Live but also for PGA TOUR Champions Tour and Korn Ferry Tour, both of which will be produced remotely from the facility next year. Social media, digital operations, and international media will also be occupy space in the building. The first two floors will comprise live production space and the studios and control rooms; the third floor will house the content team. According to Luis Goicouria, SVP, media, PGA TOUR, the plan is to start testing the facility this summer and, ideally, move in around October and put the facility through its paces with parallel operations.

PGA TOUR’s Greg Hopfe (left) and Andrew Wisniewski gave a tour of the new PGA TOUR Studios facility, which is expected to open in time for the 2025 PGA season.

We’ll spend the fourth quarter testing everything,” Goicouria explains. “We have some fall tournaments that will allow us to have parallel work streams: we’ll still be doing everything from the miniature TV compound that we built in the parking lot of the St. Augustine facility. At the same time, we’ll also be doing it from here just to make sure that everything’s working so that, in January, we can hit the ground running when we light everything up.”

The new home will be nearly five times larger than the current PGA TOUR facility in St. Augustine, FL. It will have seven studios at launch (future growth allows for 12) and eight control rooms (with space for 13) spread over the first two floors, along with eight audio-control rooms, four finishing suites, four audio-post rooms, eight edit suites, eight voiceover rooms, and six graphics rooms. It is located next door to the 185,000-sq.-ft. PGA TOUR Global Home. The exterior for both buildings was the vision of Foster+Partners, and HLW International implemented the production facilities inside.

“A lot of the third floor is going to be head room for postproduction as well as our media-asset–management team,” says Mike Raimondo, VP, broadcast technology, PGA TOUR. “We also wanted to have between 20% and 25% of unallocated space for growth so there are two large rooms — one on the first floor and one on the third floor — that are massive.”

A key design philosophy was to make all the production-control rooms equally capable from a firepower standpoint even if some may be larger physically. “Essentially, the equipment that sits in the smallest PCR [will be] the same as in the biggest PCR,” notes Goicouria. “That is very intentional: every single production that we do will be equal in terms of quality. Four of the studios and control rooms are going to be used for four ESPN feeds, and one studio will be dedicated to the Korn Ferry Tour, one to the Champions Tour, and the last one for anything else that might come up, like an original show or something else.”

Having the same amount of firepower across all the rooms means that, if Greg Hopfe, SVP/executive producer, PGA TOUR, and the team come up with a new programming idea, the equipment is in place to do a proper proof of concept. “We won’t need to spend money to make a room or rent new technology; we can just do it,” explains PGA TOUR, VP, Engineering, Andrew Wisniewski. “The audio rooms, with Dolby Atmos, are a perfect example of that. Currently, our shows are produced in stereo, but, from day one, some of the audio rooms [in the new facility] can do Atmos. Our goal is to be an end-to-end production facility that can support any format for our teams and external clients.”

There will be one central equipment room with around 120 racks of equipment installed, again with room to add 40 more if needed. Goicouria notes that PGA TOUR has worked very closely with AWS on cloud computing and that the original plans called for a larger equipment room.

“Working with AWS on the cloud-computing side, we’ve essentially eliminated almost every server for the building as we do everything in the cloud now,” he explains. “AWS has been huge and will have some branding in the building because of our official marketing partnership. But they have been a key technology partner for us with respect to how we visualize the technology in the building, particularly on the cloud-computing side.”

That extends to media-asset management. The PGA has about 20 PB of archives in the AWS cloud. “This is really a content factory,” notes Goicouria.

“NEP is another hugely important technology partner,” he adds. “They’ve done our truck fleet and are also helping us in terms of what equipment we need in this building, how to put it together, how that equipment talks to each other. With every production room in this building interconnected, every studio can connect to every production-control room, every audio room can connect to every control room.”

The whole facility is going to be SMPTE ST 2110–native from the beginning, and Hopfe expects the flexibility of the space and the use of IP to unlock new production efficiencies for PGA TOUR golf: “Back in the day, switching monitor walls between CBS and NBC, for example, took a lot of patching and work to get it to the way the producers wanted. But, because this is all-IP, that can be done with the flip of a switch. And that means it’s possible, if the airtimes are right, to do a Korn Ferry event in a control room and then flip the switch at 5:00 p.m. and do something else.”

One of the highlights at opening will be studios that rely heavily on LED walls and, in the case of the largest studio, even an LED floor. “The plan is to do something very, very unique,” says Wisniewski. “It’s going to be predominantly LED walls, an LED floor, a hard set, but a focus on graphics and extended sets that elevate the fun and experience to a whole new level. Greg [Hopfe] and David Piccolo, SVP Executive Creative Director, have been instrumental in bringing this vision to life.”

Planning began in 2017, and the project was greenlighted prior to the COVID pandemic. So getting to this point has been a battle against everything from inflation to worker shortages to supply-chain issues. “Everything you can imagine has been thrown at us while we’ve been building this building,” says Goicouria. “But the commitment from our board and from our executive team has been there every step of the way to get it done. And we’re almost there.”


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