17 September 2013

Blame it on the rain (well, actually, blame it on the lightning)

When traveling to work on a broadcast, things are usually pretty simple. Fly in the day before, stay two nights in a hotel, and head home the day after the game. But things were a little different for Saturday’s FC Dallas-Colorado Rapids broadcast, and it almost got me in trouble.

Weather delays -- not part of the plan
You see, I am currently in the middle of moving to New York City, a big deal on the personal side that probably deserves several posts of its own. Since I need to use as much of my time as possible to look for an affordable and passable place to live, my trip to Denver was a whirlwind that involved flying out that morning and flying out that night. What nobody had counted on was the Colorado weather, which almost derailed those carefully laid plans.

My outbound trip was smooth enough, catching an early morning flight out of LaGuardia Airport, connecting in Dallas-Fort Worth (where I ran into an old friend from Rice University), and arriving in Denver before noon. Even a little construction on I-70 didn’t keep me from getting to the hotel (kindly reserved even though I had no intention of spending the night), getting lunch with broadcast partner Brian Dunseth, and catching up with two close friends from college.

But the skies turned threatening in the late afternoon, and as I drove to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Dunny and I found ourselves plotting how we could stay as dry as possible while running through a downpour to the stadium. The stadium exit was closed off due to flooding, so we had to U-turn and find our way back. Thankfully, the downpour had not yet reached the stadium, so we made it to the press box without having to dance between the raindrops.

Pretty soon, however, lightning started to flash in the distance, and that’s when things got nervy. Any lightning strike in the area requires at least a 30-minute wait before the teams take the field. Soon the possibility of a delayed kickoff came up, and that was an issue for me.

Knowing that soccer games reliably last two hours, I had assumed that I had plenty of time from the game ending (9 p.m. MT) to my flight’s departure (1 a.m. MT) to go back to the hotel, change, return my rental car, and check in for the flight. But a delay, especially one that threatened to go as long as two hours, could have made that impossible. There was also the worrying possibility that the game would be canceled, and that seemed to mean arranging a new flight and calling the game the next morning without a partner (Brian had other Sunday commitments).

Kickoff was initially pushed back to 7:52 p.m. MT, but there was strong speculation in the broadcast booth that it might not actually get underway until 8:30. And that wasn’t even factoring in the possibility of an in-game delay. So I was sweating the timing just a bit.

Once we taped our open, all went smoothly.
We went on-air briefly at 7 p.m. to let TXA 21 viewers back in Dallas know that the game had been delayed, and then we sat and waited. We taped the opening segment of our show a few minutes later, as the players warmed up in the rain, and thankfully no more lightning appeared. In fact, the rain itself had stopped by kickoff, and the game was played on a slick but safe field, and a surprisingly healthy crowd stuck around to see it.

Reunited with Brian Dunseth.
I felt like we ended up with a very good broadcast, discussing both teams’ seasons when the game had a little less action, and talking about tactical changes and the implications of the game once it kicked into high gear. Unfortunately for our viewers back in Dallas, FCD let a 1-goal lead slip away, and Colorado took a big step toward the post season.

Fortunately for me, the game ended on time, and while I drove pretty aggressively on my way out of the stadium and then from the hotel to the airport, I really had plenty of time. Even a wait for my rental-car bus and the crazy Arizona State-Wisconsin ending couldn’t keep me from making my flight and arriving at New York’s JFK Airport early Sunday morning.
Given the conditions in Colorado,
13,145 was a great crowd.

In the future, however, I think I’d like to keep things simple. 

No comments:

Post a Comment