There’s been much consternation over the past week regarding the status and location of the Vikings-Bears game on Monday night, but everyone from the Vikings, the University of Minnesota and the NFL, plus many others, have pulled together nicely to be in a position to have TCF Bank Stadium ready to host a regular season NFL game on a national stage.
That national stage will be provided by ESPN, the network that has exclusive broadcasting rights to Monday Night Football.
The cast of hundreds of talented people who work hard to produce the Monday Night Football broadcast have been in town the past few days preparing for the game. ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer/Producer of Monday Night Football Jay Rothman took a few moments to speak with Twin Cities reporters about the upcoming Vikings-Bears game.
Asked if the change in venue from Mall of America Field to TCF Bank Stadium made it more difficult to pull off this broadcast, Rothman explained that things have gone smoothly and that the integrity of the broadcast has not been comprised.
“To be honest with you, I can’t say it’s been more challenging,” Rothman said. “In terms of the stadium, we’re doing our complete show.”
Rothman explained the only major adjustment had to do with SkyCam, the overhead camera that typically trails the action on the field from a “birds eye” point of view. SkyCam had not previously been flown at TCF Bank Stadium but engineers worked hard to implement the system and it will be operating this Monday night. Rothman also said some cabling issues needed adjustment but that for the most part it was a smooth transition.
“We huddled in Houston, our whole operations team, really going with the assumption that we were going to be doing the game here Monday night,” Rothman said. “And fortunately we have done college football games here, so we had stadium surveys, we had all the layouts in terms of the booth, the camera positions, the cable runs. So we got way out in advance on Sunday in Houston, the day before our Monday night game there, in preparation.”
Rothman cited the fact that the team is celebrating 50 seasons of Vikings football, is playing outside for the first time in 29 years and will be honoring the 50 Greatest Vikings of all-time as other reasons ESPN is excited to broadcast Monday night’s game. ESPN plans on covering the team’s “Celebrating 50 Seasons” event on Sunday night and incorporating parts of that event in the broadcast. In addition to that, ESPN will A) have a camera in the Presidential Suite to show some former Vikings greats as they enjoy the game, B) show the effort involved in clearing snow and getting the stadium ready to host an NFL game and C) aerial shots of the stadium to give viewers a look at the stadium.
“We’ve been privileged to do some different kind of games, not just a game,” Rothman said. “And I would never put this obviously on the same scale as doing the re-opening of the Superdome post-Katrina, but in that game it was more than a football game. Obviously it was an event. This is clearly not to that scale, but we are covering a unique event.
“We are very excited to do the game. I could feel the vibe when I was at baggage claim this morning with (Jon) Gruden and Jaws (Ron Jaworski) and Mike (Tirico) and everbody. There’s a lot of excitement on our end to do something really cool, really unique, different. It’s a big deal for us to do it, and we’re psyched to cover really a big event that’s gotten a ton of buzz this week obviously, for unfortunate circumstances regarding the Metrodome, but the collective effort of everyone involved to stage this game here is awesome. We’re fired up to cover it.”
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