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Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012 Conference speaker in focus: Curtis Emerson, director, Events and Production, Canadian Football League
For Curtis Emerson, making sure fans want to continue coming to games is critical and guides much of his work. Here, the Detroit-born sports nut tells us how he’s doing it for the Canadian Football League
“Having grown up in the Detroit area, it’s hard not to be a passionate sports fan,” enthuses Curtis Emerson, director of Events and Production for the Canadian Football League (CFL), who will be part of a roundtable discussion focusing on the Canadian sports market at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012.
Emerson’s background in the sports entertainment sector spans two decades, having started out within the broadcast and event presentation department of the Detroit Pistons. In the mid-1990s, he moved to Canada to work with the Toronto Raptors as part of the NBA expansion, and soon found himself heavily involved in the design and planning of what was to become the Raptors’ new home, the Air Canada Centre. “I led the team working on the development of the technical facilities,” he reveals. “The ACC continues to be one of the busiest arenas in North America, home not only to the Raptors but also the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs.”
Emerson says it’s difficult to pick out a career highlight as each project or step throughout has been different. But overseeing the conversion of the centre-hung videoboard and control room facilities from analogue to HD at the ACC would certainly be up there – the last big multi-million dollar project he worked on before moving on to his current role with the CFL. “Having worked on the original design some 10 years earlier, it was quite special to get the opportunity to do it again,” he says. “Rarely does that happen. But I’ve also been quite proud of my accomplishments in my almost three years with the CFL. I’m making my mark here as well!
“I now oversee and manage all of the logistics for the Grey Cup Championship games, Canada’s largest single sporting event,” he continues. “I work with all member clubs on game presentation consistency and enhacing the overall game experience throughout the league as well as with our broadcast partner on how our games look on television.” This even involved him spearheading a project over the past 12 months to put together a stadium standards guideline document to ensure that all CFL stadiums meet minmum requirements for regular season games and be expandable to accommodate the Grey Cup Championship game.
“In many cases – and this is across all leagues – the in-stadium/in-arena experience sometimes pales in comparison to the stay-at-home viewing option,” the CFL man feels. “Fans can stay home and experience games on their HD TVs with surround-sound systems where the beer is already paid for and there are no lineups for the washrooms! In today’s world, it’s all about instant access to information and stats about the game you’re attending as well as other games and events that might be going on at the same time. We need to use technology to ensure these expectations are met. We see this already in NFL stadiums where the League mandated updating player fantasy stats and displaying them in-game.”
Speaking of which, Emerson (like many others) is paying close attention to developments in Los Angeles. “Getting an NFL team back in the LA area is certainly a hot-button item and constructing a new stadium is a big part of that plan.”
Curtis Emerson will be part of the Canada: Market Report Roundtable’, Session 5 at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012 (Day 2, Wednesday 9 May, 09.00-10.00hrs)