Yesterday the Tampa Bay Rowdies officially announced that all of their home games will once again be broadcast on Great38 WTTA. Fans should see a dramatic increase in the quality of those broadcasts, which will also be available to stream on ESPN3 outside of the Tampa Bay area.
This major improvement comes after years of slow and steady progression according to Rowdies broadcast director Art Dryce. His production company VideoArt Productions has been in business for over 30 years and has provided live coverage for the Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Tampa Bay Lightning. They have the experience and the knowledge to create professional level content. The only factor missing these past few years for the Rowdies broadcasts was the investment. This year Dryce has significantly more resources to get the job done.
“Number one we have increased and improved the equipment that we’re using for coverage. That goes from the switcher, the communications, and the audio. All of those things have been upgraded to a level that will enhance production because of the quality and the people who are running them,” said Dryce.
Including on air talent the crew for Rowdies gameday broadcasts now totals 26 people. They will utilize 12 cameras during matches, tripling the amount from last year. There will also be three replay operators, each handling four cameras. If you want a good look at controversial offside calls the broadcast will have you covered with cameras on both 18 yard boxes.
“Some of the new angles we’ll have, besides following the usual action, we’re going to be adding a wireless camera that will be able to roam around, that will pretty much be stationed on the bench side of the field. So we can get much more quick interviews and we’ll be able to update with certain reports from our sideline reporter that will enhance the coverage,” said Dryce.
On the technical side the team will be sticking with the same Broadcast Pix production system but will be upgrading from the Broadcast Pix 1000 to the 2000. Dryce says the upgrade will allow for even faster updates and switching between graphics.
Rowdies broadcasts on Great38 will now also occupy a full three-hour timeslot from 7 to 10 p.m., with half hour pre and post game shows bookending the coverage. Last year’s sideline reporter Jenn Holloway will serve as the host for those two shows. New addition Heather Stoltis will fill in for Holloway on sideline duties.
The duo calling the game in the booth will also change. Former Rowdies goalkeeper Mike Pepper (1990-1993) will be the play-by-play man and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment veteran Lee Godfrey has joined the team to provide color commentary.
This will be VideoArt Production’s fifth year producing broadcast for the Rowdies and the evolution in that time period is very apparent to Dryce. When the Rowdies first contacted VideoArt Dryce says that they were looking for a “very small web production.” That first year Dryce operated with only two cameras and a three person crew. The significant overhaul to the broadcast that started in small doses last year when owner Bill Edwards took over is something that Dryce believes is a necessity for the club moving forward.
“This is a market that has professional baseball, professional football, professional hockey. And those broadcasts are being done at a high level for the networks that facilitate them. If the Rowdies are going to compete for viewership their production has to be at the same level as those teams that are providing through their broadcast partners,” said Dryce. “We believe that with the crew we brought in this year, with the addition of the equipment upgrades we have this year, and with the expertise those of us who are guiding that program we are at the same level that those productions are.”
Like nearly every other facet of this new era for the Rowdies, the ambitions for the gameday broadcasts are sky-high. Packing the refurbished Al Lang Stadium is crucial to the sustainability of the club, but producing professional live content on a weekly basis is critical to building the club’s image on the national stage.
“As this team progresses, and this team wants to increase their national coverage and notoriety, our goal is to have the best coverage in the NASL. Our goal is to have the best coverage for soccer in the United States,” said Dryce. “If the team is going to continue to improve from a national standpoint this is one of the first things in place that gives everyone in the country a chance to see what’s happening here in St Petersburg. From the changes in the stadium, to the commitment on the field by the team, and the commitment by the ownership team to create the best possible product from a national standpoint.”