Scott D. Pierce: RSL-Monterrey match is the real TV deal
When Real Salt Lake was building Rio Tinto Stadium, it made sure the place was jam-packed with all the latest television technology.
You can do a couple of completely different telecasts of the same game without breaking a sweat. Broadcasters even have their choice they can shoot the game from either the west side or the east side of the stadium. There are cameras to accommodate either choice.
There's more TV capacity than the team envisioned ever needing for a single game.
Until Wednesday night, that is, when RSL takes on Monterrey (Mexico) in a match that will decide the CONCACAF Champions League crown. And Rio Tinto will be "pretty much at full capacity," said Trey Fitz-Gerald, RSL's director of public affairs and broadcasting.
"Certainly, every booth is being used," he said with a laugh. "Just about every camera position and patch panel will be utilized in some way, shape or form."
As was the case with last week's game in Monterrey, CONCACAF itself is responsible for the main video feed of the game. And that's not good news to anyone who saw the first leg of the RSL-Monterrey showdown an atrociously directed telecast.
We would have been better off with a single camera panning left and right from high above the center stripe. At least that way, we wouldn't have repeatedly missed the action on the field while CONCACAF showed us umpteen replays many of them meaningless and shots of the coaches while the ball was in play.
This week, however, in addition to the main feed, both Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN Deportes will have camera positions of their own, their own directors and the ability to customize their telecasts.
Altogether, there will be about 75 on- and off-air TV staffers on hand for the game, which begins at 8 p.m.
"It's pretty massive. It's the most concurrent production we've ever had at Rio Tinto," Fitz-Gerald said. "Even more than for the [2009 MLS] All-Star Game" which was simulcast on ESPN2 and Telefutura.
Unlike many FSC telecasts, this one will actually feature sportscasters in the stadium not just watching the game in a studio in a distant city.
Mark Rogandino will handle the play-by-play for FSC, with Kyle Martino providing the color commentary. Former RSL player Brian Dunseth will be at the desk for the pre- and postgame shows; he'll be on the sidelines during the game.
Dunseth will be relocated a bit, however. When FSC brings staff to Rio Tinto, it normally sets up an anchor desk on the deck in the southwest corner of the stadium. On Wednesday, however, that will be the site of an auxiliary press box to accommodate the flood of media that will flow into the stadium.
Fitz-Gerald estimates a total of 200 print and broadcast journalists will be there for the RSL-Monterrey game.
You couldn't buy the kind of media attention Real Salt Lake has gotten from its CCL run. Not only has the team received glowing write-ups in Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post just to name a few print publications but RSL highlights have been airing on everything from ESPN's "SportsCenter" to CNN.
This has become, arguably, one of the biggest sporting events in Utah history. OK, it's not the NBA Finals or the Olympics, but it has an international audience that dwarfs everything else.
And, for a team in its seventh season, playing in a league in its 16th season, that's pretty amazing.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. His sports on TV column runs Wednesdays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter: @ScottDPierce
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