Go behind the scenes of Fox’s production of the ‘Field of Dreams’ game
Fox staffed more than 225 people on-site to produce the game. It took them Saturday and Sunday to run 7 and a half miles of fiber-optic cable, and power providers ran about a mile of cable.
Perhaps the only thing more improbable than playing a major-league baseball game in a cornfield is broadcasting that game to a national audience.
Brad Cheney, Fox Sports’ vice president for field operations and engineering, has faced that challenge twice after his network produced the second “Field of Dreams” game Thursday in Dyersville, Iowa, between the Cubs and Reds. And despite his technological know-how, even Cheney is amazed with the advancements in the industry.
“You look back five years ago, before the pandemic, and to say that I would get a one-gig internet connection in a field in Iowa, people would’ve laughed me out of the room,” Cheney said this week standing next to the corn stalks. “I probably would’ve laughed myself out of the room to begin with because I’d be like, there’s no way that’s happening.
“Obviously, I’m talking to you on a cellphone in a field in Iowa because providers are out here boosting signals and making sure that things work. We’re in that age where it is truly spectacular to see what technology can help you achieve.”
Fox won the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Live Special last year for the “Field of Dreams” game between the White Sox and Yankees. Producer Pete Macheska and director Matt Gangl returned to Dyersville with the same tools at their disposal — such as drones and aerial cameras — set up by Cheney’s crew.
Fox staffed more than 225 people on site to produce the game. It took them Saturday and Sunday to run 7 and a half miles of fiber-optic cable that connected the movie set to the main broadcast setup at the stadium. Power providers ran about a mile of cable. Preparations began almost a month before the game.
Multiple generator trucks provided over a megawatt of power. We’re not talking about a portable generator you might have heard humming in your neighborhood after a power outage. One megawatt roughly equates to the same amount of electricity that 500 to 1,000 homes consume in a year.
Fox had four, 53-foot-long expanding trucks that housed all the broadcast technology. Three were Encore units from Game Creek Video that totaled about 70 workstations. The other was from CP Communications, which handles wireless audio and video needs.
They’re the same mobile units that Fox will use at the Super Bowl in February outside State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The network provided top-level production resources that regular-season baseball games don’t get.
“Everyone here is a part of our postseason team, All-Star Game, the most prestigious events,” said Cheney, who has been with Fox for eight years. “But being out here is different where you’re not in a ballpark with a built-in structure. You have to start everything from scratch.”
That doesn’t even count the people who helped produce the game off-site. The pandemic forced networks to learn how to handle certain tasks remotely — such as displaying graphics — and some were carried out from Fox’s Los Angeles network center.
“The one thing I’d like to emphasize is that because this is a different game in a ballpark that doesn’t exist every week, there really is a labor of love by all the people working this event,” Cheney said. “That’s really important, and the feeling that everybody left with that [who] produced the game last year and was a part of the broadcast that was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and all of us have spent the last 365 days working to figure out how to make this thing the same.”