WrestleMania XXIV: A Logistical Challenge
Hoisting power lines, telephone lines, fencing; building parking lots, production offices and dressing rooms; calculating lighting angles, grids and proper placement of video monitors … it sounds like an episode of Extreme Home Makeover: Arena Edition.
But it's not; it's actually part of the logistical puzzle that WWE's 12-year veteran set engineer Jason Robinson and his team must complete before WrestleMania XXIV arrives in Orlando's Citrus Bowl on March 30.
In order to create the monstrous set design and elaborate pyrotechnics display that our fans have come to expect, Robinson says his team has already started preparing.
"We started a few months ago," he said. "Logistically, this will be the most challenging WrestleMania I've been involved with, but trust me, we'll make it WrestleMania by the time it's complete."
The Citrus Bowl is an outdoor venue, and will require three to four weeks of load-in (unloading trucks to create structure), which will have to be done twice. The first time will be for the inside of the arena, where WWE and WrestleMania banners are placed, the public announce system is installed and the pyrotechnics and lighting are situated.
Once Robinson and his team are finished, they will have to repeat the process all over again.
"We don't have to do it twice design-wise," says Robinson, "but the physical challenges are met in the entrance way, and some of the other issues like building dressing rooms, the backstage area, parking lots and production offices must be done as well … not only from the logistic side but a creative side. This all will have to be figured out."
Although these challenges are seemingly daunting on paper, Robinson says it's the experience and talent of WWE's crew that will ensure this year's spectacular is a giant success.
"Other industries do this for concerts and other productions, so we'll be drawing a wealth of knowledge from people who work at WWE and have involvement with those types of productions," Robinson said. "Many of our vendors use lighting like what we'll use in this year's WrestleMania so we'll have experience on our side."
Another issue is that "other productions" like the Olympics, for example, can use broader lighting. Since the Citrus Bowl is an outdoor arena with no roof, it's a special case.
"We'd like to light the ring and light the PA, but at the same time we'll be worrying about rain, so that has to be factored in," he said. "The video is a major issue for us because there is no scoreboard, and usually we use the scoreboard from the basketball or football teams."
Even with the dilemmas, the excitement that the crew has for hosting WrestleMania in the Sunshine State is indescribable for Robinson and his team. It's an opportunity to put WWE's production team on stage before the Superstars and Divas steal the show; the chance to prove that the people who work behind the scenes are Superstars in their own right.
"We're excited and like I said, trust me," Robinson assured. "It will be WrestleMania by the time March 30 comes around."