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ESPN has big plans for Fort Worth when Super Bowl arrives

ESPN, as it turns out, is moving to Fort Worth -- well, for a week or so, sort of, in early February.

The network, as everyone knows, will anchor its coverage from downtown's Sundance Square during Super Bowl week. It all starts with Mike & Mike in the Morning at 5 a.m. Monday, Jan. 31, and runs through Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 6.

With kickoff only 52 days away, ESPN is now finalizing logistics for the massive move south. Espn-demo

The network plans to use a "skycam" suspended about 50 feet above its entire downtown footprint, according to Chris Gavras , a spokesman for Touchdown Fort Worth, who spoke to a Star-Telegram advertising group Wednesday.

In addition, ESPN plans to place a camera on the fifth floor of the Burk Burnett Building, overlooking the main set in the Chisholm Trail parking lot. 

And a secondary studio will be built on the west side of the Jett Building at Third and Main (home to 95.9 The Ranch radio) for The Scott Van Pelt (radio) Show, which airs at noon CST weekdays.

The live broadcasts, however, are only part of ESPN's plans for the city. 

Gavras said the network will bring dozens of employees down from Bristol, Conn., for the game, including ESPN and ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer.

Major advertisers will follow the network's corporate hospitality operation into town, and crews will be in Fort Worth a couple of weeks before Super Bowl week shooting "B" roll at the Fort Worth Stock Show and in other areas.

Oh, and about 100 of the Yanks from Bristol will be wearing custom boots courtesy of Justin Boots; the boots will be delivered when the ESPN crew hits town, just in time to take in a performance of the Stock Show Rodeo.

Gavras also revealed details about local media outlets that are planning to anchor their newscasts in Sundance Square.

Channel 11 had already signed on, but Gavras said Wednesday that Channel 8 will also build a set -- elevated -- in downtown Fort Worth. (Forsaking its glitzy set in downtown Dallas' Victory Plaza. Interesting ...)

So, at any one time, seven or eight live broadcasts could be originating from the site.

Jay Leno's crew --although not Jay himself -- is also scheduled to be in Fort Worth that week, Gavras said.

Where the West begins? How about where the Super Bowl begins?

-- Kathy Vetter

(Photo of ESPN's demonstration field in downtown Phoenix before the 2008 Super Bowl. The demo field in Fort Worth will be on Main Street, with a view of the Tarrant County Courthouse in the background.)


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