Superbowl infrastructure

A few thoughts about the big game that I won’t be watching..

Big events like the Superbowl require the deployment of temporary infrastructure from electrical generators, cell phone towers, hundreds of port-o-potties, pedestrian and traffic controls, public safety command centers, to all the broadcast equipment (cameras, lighting, sound, computers, control rooms, broadcast gear, satellite uplinks, et cetera). This doesn’t even start to include the logistics of selling the tickets or folks traveling to the event.

To put on its broadcast, NBC will have 200 crew at the game, and more than 450 total production and engineering staff in Tampa. And the effort will feature 52 high-definition cameras, 45 vehicles (including control trucks, mobile units, office trailers and a horse trailer), 24 digital video replay sources, eight digital post-production facilities (five Avid suites and three Final Cut Pro suites), 20 hand-held cameras, five robotic cameras, two RF hand-held cameras, one “cable-cam” camera that is suspended above the field, 50 miles of camera and microphone cable, 93 microphones, and much more. – CNET

To ensure that the NEP trucks and the rest of NBC’s compound enjoy adequate power throughout Super Sunday, NEP is bringing in several Greco 450 kilowatt dual-redundant generators. NBC may rely on the stadium’s house power for the pirate ship set, but will back that up with a generator as well. –Tech_Special_’NBCs_Super_Bowl_Comeback’.

The amount of mobile diesel powered electrical generators assembled for the big game is staggering, with 1000’s of amps of capacity parked outside the stadium. The cost of the fuel, not to say the carbon emissions are huge – tapping the grid would be better from an environmental perspective. But most places aren’t set up to have excess energy capacity beyond what it takes to run the building to power the broadcast & event, so we’re stuck with a bunch of humming gensets out in the parking lot like the picture below:

The 2009 Superbowl had the following communcation gear deployed:

Then there is all the stages and event tents – at least here, most of the structures are re-useable modular bits and pieces that get rented over and over again. Designing this stuff used to be my job, back in my Hollywood days. Turns out, I did work on some sets for the 2001 Superbowl’s MTv encampment while I was Jeff Hall’s lead set designer – totally forgot about this (it was just the 28th project of 2000).

Jeff Hall - Production Designer, Barry Lehrman - Set Designer

(sorry, no event photos, just the plan.)

So as everybody gathers round at the Superbowl parties and digs into the nachos, just remember that the biggest game in America has a big environmental footprint and requires lots of infrastructure behind the scenes.


Superbowl by the numbers

Thinkwell Design – producer of the Pre-Game Show, Team Introductions, National Anthem and Post-Game Ceremony for Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston

3 thoughts on “Superbowl infrastructure

  1. Donna,
    sex work does not qualifies as infrastructure. it is an economic and cultural phenomena that shows aspects of network culture in it’s contemporary deployment and swarming to events.

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