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On the Hardwood: How Kyle Campbell Balanced Productions for the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, NFL's Saints

24/02/2021

On the Hardwood: How Kyle Campbell Balanced Productions for the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, NFL's Saints Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Smoothie King Center access the same control room By Kristian Hernandez, Associate Editor

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 11:43 am

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The doldrums of 2020 may be in the past, but 2021 is still presenting challenges to in-venue production teams. Now out of the Orlando bubble, NBA organizations are hosting games in their home arenas and navigating the continuing difficulties of the pandemic. Like SVG's At the Ballpark and On the Gridiron series, On the Hardwood will take a look the hardships, creative ideas, and teamwork of NBA franchises.

Since the beginning of the NFL season in September, the city of New Orleans has been buzzing like it's a non-stop Mardi Gras. Three months later, when the NBA's Pelicans began their 2020-21 season, Kyle Campbell, director, game experience, New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, became a very busy man. As Saints director, game day experience, he was tasked with balancing in-venue productions for two franchises simultaneously.

I didn't get much sleep and didn't get to see my wife as much as I would have liked to, he says. It has been a pretty crazy start to the Pelicans season.

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Two at a Time: Postseason Saints, Regular-Season Pelicans Take Over Downtown NOLA In other cities, two separate individuals would handle these roles for their respective organizations. In New Orleans, Campbell is tasked with handling two professional leagues that bump up against each other on the sports calendar. The COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of difficulty because the NBA wasn't sure when its season would begin.

The control room used by the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, here for the Pelicans-Celtics game on Feb. 21

In the NBA offseason, he says, we didn't know if we were going to start until after the new year or not. Luckily, leading up to that preseason game, we were on a three-game road trip with the Saints.

Campbell and his Pelicans crew had only a few days to develop a regular-season strategy. Sleepless nights and early mornings became normal, but it was only a prelude to what was to come over the next nine days: a Pelicans preseason game vs. the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 18, a Saints game in Week 15 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 20, a Friday-night Saints home game vs. the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Day, and the Pelicans home opener vs. the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 27. Over that span, the two franchises used the single control room that produces both shows.

During that week, he notes, we were mixing in tech rehearsals, putting together scripts; balancing internal communications with sponsorship, marketing, and sales; and booking talent. We also were getting ready for Saints playoffs on top of that.

With the success of the Saints throughout the year, the team was the No. 2 seed in the NFC and hosted the Wild Card Game at home vs. the Chicago Bears on Jan. 10. That night, the Pelicans were on the road in Dallas but didn't play because of COVID-19 protocols. After defeating the Bears, the Saints played host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round on Jan. 17. Campbell was again able to fully keep his mind on football with the Pelicans playing the Sacramento Kings on the West Coast. The Saints' 10-point loss in the second round was heartbreaking but allowed Campbell to dive fully into his other responsibilities.

I'm extremely fortunate to have a job and expand our game experience in New Orleans quite a bit, he says. We have a high bar that we set for ourselves internally, so I'm able to bring in people to help fulfill [fan] expectations.

Games at The Blender: Smoothie King Center Videoboard Entertains In-Venue Fans As other teams gradually bring fans back into their venues, the Pelicans were one of a small group of organizations that allowed patrons in the seats at the beginning of the season. At first, the attendance limit was only 4% capacity, or 750 fans. Later, that number grew to 9%, or 1,400 fans, and now 16%, or 2,700 fans, are able to enter the turnstiles of Smoothie King Center. Although the nine-day stretch ending 2020 was a hectic time for the production crew, the hours spent devising a plan for Saints games during the regular season prior to fans' return paid off in a cohesive plan of attack for its NBA efforts.

Control-room positions are separated by plexiglass.

Our experience with the Saints
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2021/02/24/on-the-hardwood-how-kyle-campbe...
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