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Packing the Friendly Confines: Scripps Sports, NWSL Team Up for Historic Broadcast at Wrigley Field

11/06/2024

Packing the Friendly Confines: Scripps Sports, NWSL Team Up for Historic Broadcast at Wrigley Field Saturday's Chicago Red Stars-Bay FC match sets NWSL single-game attendance record By Brandon Costa, Director of Digital

Tuesday, June 11, 2024 - 3:08 pm

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Last weekend was historic for the National Women's Soccer League. The league logged a total weekend attendance of 110,845 fans, marking the first time it surpassed 100,000 spectators in a single weekend.

The NWSL set a single-match attendance record on Saturday when the Chicago Red Stars hosted Bay FC at Wrigley Field. For the game, broadcast nationally on ION, announcers JP Dellacamera (left) and Jill Loyden call the action from the traditional baseball broadcast booth. (Photos: VISTA/NEP)

A huge driver of that record was Saturday's Chicago Red Stars-Bay FC match hosted at Wrigley Field, which set a new NWSL single-game attendance record with a crowd of 35,038.

Marking the occasion, NWSL teamed up with Scripps Sports on a fully onsite production to broadcast the game to a national audience on ION. Supported by year-round operations and facilities partner VISTA/NEP, the production featured more than 20 cameras, including a live drone and two super-slo-mos.

Full credit needs to go to Red Stars owner Laura Ricketts and both the Red Stars and Chicago Cubs organizations, says Brian Gordon, SVP, broadcast, NWSL. It is never easy to create soccer coverage in a baseball stadium, especially one as historic as Wrigley Field. We coordinated successful Match Day -2 and -1 load-ins and rehearsals that led to a successful broadcast.

Scripps Sports broadcast its NWSL on ION studio show live from Wrigley. Coverage included a one-hour pregame show from the set, positioned in left field.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that cramming a soccer match and broadcast into a cozy, 110-year-old baseball stadium comes with obstacles. According to Gordon, the Chicago Cubs organization - with the help of Cubs Assistant Director, Broadcast Relations, Joe Rios - built camera platforms in the left- and right-field upper decks to get the main game cameras and high-end-zone cameras into proper position of the field alignment. The on-air tandem of play-by-play commentator JP Dellacamera and analyst Jill Loyden were able to call the game from traditional baseball broadcast booth. It was a collaborative effort with Gordon and NWSL Senior Director, Broadcast and Production, Meg Buchan and Director, Broadcast Operations, Erin Hurley.

A night we will never forget

Relive the best moments from Saturday's historic night in the @NWSL.#IONNWSL pic.twitter.com/WEdhb27KR9

- NWSL on ION (@IONNWSL) June 11, 2024

The Scripps Sports team - headed by President Brian Lawlor; VP, Operations, Quinn Pacini; Director, Sports Production, James Raftery; and Nicole Denne, executive producer, NWSL on ION - also went all out in bringing its studio show to site. The shoulder programming is typically produced from ION's Atlanta studios, but the network instead installed a portable setup in left field at Wrigley Field. Coverage included a one-hour pregame show, plus halftime and postgame. Coordinating Producer Chris Alexopoulos, a former ESPN veteran, was there to help oversee the onsite studio efforts.

Saturday night's production of the Chicago Red Stars match at Wrigley Field was a fully onsite production.

We've made a commitment to the NWSL, the teams, players and fans, Denne said prior to the match. And when the NWSL announced in April that this game would be at Wrigley Field we started making plans to bring the studio show to this iconic venue.

VISTA/NEP operations were fully onsite, with producer Tom Piero and director Gage Tillotson at the front bench. VISTA Director, Live Event, Steven Kravitz and Director, Operations, Hildelisa Gonzalez and NEP Group Director, Engineering, Nicholas Romano were critical to the show's success.

The best feeling in our industry is walking out of the truck to high fives and hugs, says Mike Freedman, VP/Executive Producer, Production Services, VISTA Worldlink and NEP Broadcast Services U.S. That's what happened on Saturday night when we went off the air. It was a total team effort across all organizations involved from the planning to the setup to the implementation.
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2024/06/11/packing-the-friendly-confines-s...
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