Lance MacDonald chooses his words carefully.
When asked whether the construction of the Pac-12 studios will be done on time, the assistant project manager for Matt Construction says simply, it will be “substantially complete.”
What does that mean?
The brand new Pac-12 Networks office and studio, located at 370 Third Street in San Francisco, will be usable when the Pac-12 team moves in on July 9. They’ll be polishing up the final touches before the network begins to broadcast the first of 850 live events, beginning with six football games during the opening week of the season.
A place to call home
Nearly 10 months ago, when the pieces of the television deal started to set in place, the network had no home. The Pac-12 found an office in San Francisco south of Market Street with 70,000 square feet spread out across one and a half floors.
The building itself was chosen for three primary reasons, according to Gary Stevenson, president of Pac-12 Enterprises, the umbrella company of Pac-12 Networks. The Bay Area is the best place for company dealing with new technology and airing content across multiple platforms. The city is a short drive away from the Pac-12 headquarters in Walnut Creek. Lastly, San Francisco is also “a fertile ground to find employees who would fit nicely in our culture,” Stevenson says. It doesn’t hurt that the building is owned by a supportive USC graduate.
Always quick with a sports metaphor, Stevenson calls people involved in the project — from designing to building to broadcasting — “an All Star team.”
“A good coach,” he says, “needs good players.”
The Pac-12 has plenty of them. In football, Oregon is coming off a Rose Bowl victory and Stanford is gearing for its third-straight BCS berth, while USC might just be the best team in the country. After a few down years, the league’s men’s basketball teams have become recharged with young talent — UCLA, for instance, reeled in the No. 1 recruiting class. Stanford has been a mainstay of the women’s Final Four for what seems like forever, and Cal is the premier swimming institution in the country, with consecutive national titles for both its men’s and women’s swim teams. That’s not even mentioning all the other world-class athletes who’ll be representing their country next month in the Olympics. And the thousands more who’ll stay and train at home.
Some of “players” Stevenson refers to aren’t necessarily the athletic type.
Pac-12 Digital, one of the three groups under the Pac-12 Enterprises company (the other two are Pac-12 Networks and Pac-12 Properties, which runs and administers championship events) essentially covers all non-TV technology. With a TV Everywhere product, viewers will be able to watch any game of devices besides TV, including online and mobile. Checking availability is easily accessible on the website. Each school’s athletic department website will also be encompassed by the Pac-12’s website (like the way baseball team’s websites are consolidated on MLB.com) over the next four years, Stevenson says.
“The conference has done a fabulous job in creating this media enterprise which will provide significantly increased exposure which our tremendous teams and student-athletes so richly deserve,” said Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour.
There’s also the “players” involved in the actual construction of the building. They’ve turned a process that usually would take anywhere from 18 months to a few years and aim to make it happen in six months. Scheduling has been the most challenging aspect, MacDonald says. For instance, equipment they order might take 8-10 weeks to arrive, so the workers have to order different parts from different places.
But overall, it’s been “surprisingly pretty smooth” for MacDonald.
Pac-12′s modern life
As for the finished product, the office will have a modern feel to it. The kitchen is up in the front, and the prominent reception desk will have stripes representing each Pac-12 school. The hallways are along the perimeters of the floors, letting in all the natural light they could. Glass walls stand out amidst otherwise all-black editing rooms. The floors are lifted, providing a few feet of space to run cables and wires throughout the office.
Air conditioning units had to be installed in the room with all the cables and wires to prevent overheating. The office, and the editing rooms in particular, have some of the best acoustics and STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings out there, with four layers of drywood and plywall sitting atop rubber and thick, sturdy doors blocking sound into certain rooms.
Not that the inside of the office will matter all that much to the average fan. But 15 Pac-12 football games during the first three weeks of the season, including Cal’s Sept. 1 season opener against Nevada, all available with the click of a button or mouse — that’s something to get excited about. When the Aug. 30 game between Utah and Northern Colorado starts at 4:15 p.m. Pacific time, it will be kicking off more than a game but a new age for the Pac-12.
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