ESPN Calls Pan Am Plaza Home During Super Bowl Week
By: Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 11:10 am

ESPN is once again out in force for a Super Bowl, with more than 400 people in Indianapolis helping make sure Super Bowl coverage, which everyday kicks off with Mike and Mike in the Morning at 6 a.m. ET and runs through a SportsCenter report recorded in Indy at 9 p.m., comes off without a hitch.

“From my standpoint, we always want to get the crowd atmosphere going and showcase the energy of the city,” says ESPN Coordinating Director Mike Feinberg. “There are plenty of fans here already. The crowds have been really good, and they will ramp up as the week progresses.”

ESPN’s base of operations is an enclosed studio set at Pan Am Plaza, a demonstration set where talent can show how plays are run (and where the program SportsNation operates), two Game Creek production units (Freedom and Northstar), and an NEP transmission unit.

The set was enclosed in glass to help protect the talent against the cold of Super Bowl week in Indianapolis. A half million BTUs’ worth of heaters are helping keep the set warm and cozy.

“We spent two extra days building the stage,” says Feinberg, noting that the process began on the Friday before the NFC and AFC championship games instead of the typical Monday after. “It was a coordinated effort with the city.”

Construction was a challenge because Pan Am Plaza is a raised structure, not on street level, and the stage has to sit on I-beams to distribute the weight evenly.

“It was more labor-intensive,” Feinberg notes, “but things are going well.”

Among production tools, the FlyCam is once again on hand at a Super Bowl to get shots over the crowds and plaza. And a robotic camera is in use to show the Super Bowl Village and even Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers and Fever.

ESPN has increased lighting on the demo field, with two additional light trees so that light will shine on the field from all four sides.

“No two remotes are the same,” says Feinberg. “The biggest challenge here are the changing weather conditions. For example, we have to combat the sun as it can wreak havoc from a lighting standpoint. We have scrims to block it out, but the sun can cause reflections with the glass enclosure.”

A total of seven programs are calling the ESPN Super Bowl set home this week, including The Scott Van Pelt Show, NFL Live, NFL32, and The Herd.

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