Cubstock 2016

by Michael S. Eddy
in Event Production
The lions at the Art Institute of Chicago got a new look for the celebration.
The lions at the Art Institute of Chicago got a new look for the celebration.

The Chicago Cubs Host Massive Celebration

When the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, defeating the American League’s Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game 7’s 10 innings, including a late rain delay, it marked the end of an epic era. The Cubs had not won the World Series since 1908 and the City of Chicago was prepared to celebrate the historic win, they just may not have expected it to have truly historic attendance.

With over 5 million people cheering on the team along a parade route that culminated in a celebration rally in Grant Park — dubbed Cubstock 2016 by Cub’s Manager Joe Maddon — it was the seventh largest gathering of people worldwide in recorded history. Just as the Cubs were late innings heroes, so, too, were the teams of technical support for the celebration. They had from the end of Game 7 on Wednesday evening until 11am on Friday morning to get it all delivered, loaded-in, and the show running.

Artistry in Motion provided confetti everywhere. Photo courtesy Chicago Scenic

Cue the Confetti

“We got contracted by Ravenswood Studios, since we work on a lot of Chicago sports team’s celebrations,” says Angelo Petratos, project manager for Chicago Scenic. “Gary Heitz was our lead project director on this project. The Cubs won the title Thursday morning at 1 a.m.; by 2 a.m., Gary was on the phone with Artistry In Motion trying to get the confetti ordered into Chicago in time. By 10 a.m., we started installing platforms in Grant Park for the next 14-hours.” Chicago Scenic extended the 40-foot wide Stageline stage with another 16 feet in platforms, and to accommodate the record number of media, they constructed the largest media platform the company had ever built, at 40 by 80 feet wide, with tiers.

“We had 20 confetti cannons installed; two at the stage and 18 units between Jackson and Balbo streets along the parade route,” Petratos adds. “The confetti, along with the cannons, all arrived in Chicago between 6 and 8 a.m. for the 11 a.m. rally. It took us over 30 minutes to just get across the sea of people on the main field to the stage to install them. At Chicago Scenic, we knew our experience and our relationship with the city and Ravenswood Studios and the Cubs would give us the ability to make this happen in the fast turnaround. I’ve been involved in a lot of great events over the years, but this was on another spectrum; I mean we get to be a part of the history of the Cubs winning the World Series.”

Pete's Big TV provided eight mobile Video Wall trucks. Photo courtesy PBTV

Video On Demand

While confetti can be shipped by plane, mobile video trucks had to drive from the East Coast. “We got a call during game 7 from Chris Weathers, the production manager for Live Nation, asking for eight mobile video trucks to be sent to Chicago for the celebration on Friday, in the event of the Cubs winning,” says Guy Benjamin, VP of Pete’s Big TVs out of New Castle, DE. “At the last minute, they decided to have the celebration on Friday, not Monday. We were able to pull from our inventory of trucks as well as work with some of our strategic partners and got the trucks on the road by late Wednesday night.”

The trucks, which have masts that raise up with LED screens, were strategically positioned so as much of the crowd could see the rally taking place on stage. Two units were deployed on either side of the stage to act as I-Mag, and the other trucks were used as video delay screens throughout the audience. The LED screens, all with 8mm resolution, ranged in size from 8 by 15 feet to 12 by 21 feet. “It was pretty amazing to see such a massive crowd, and we all say massive about crowds, but this celebration really gives the word new meaning,” Benjamin adds.

Lights, Sound, Action

Milwaukee based Clearwing Productions handled the audio systems, delay towers and lighting package. Clearwing was already on standby for a Monday event. “They decided on Wednesday to move the celebration to Friday and told us at around 4 p.m. that if they won it would be Friday,” explains Clearwing’s Bryan Baumgardner, logistics and audio lead for this project. “So Thursday’s site survey turned into load-in. We got on site at 8 a.m. and had 64 IATSE Local 2 stagehands ready for us.”

After the call on Wednesday, Clearwing made the decision to split the crew, sending half home to sleep, half to finish loading the trucks in case of a win. “I think the best decision we made was splitting our resources and sending people away to sleep, and calling them back in once the game was finished,” says Mercer Pinkston, Clearwing account executive, “because there was no sleeping from then on.”

The lighting package consisted of Vari*Lite VL3500 Washes and VL3515 Spots run via a grandMA2 console. The audio gear was mostly L-Acoustic’s products, including two main arrays hung off of the stage. “We used our Applied [Electronics] LA16-35 line array towers to suspend [L-Acoustics] K1 and K2s on each and were spaced out at increments of 300 feet to cover the entire 1,400-foot length of the primary area.

“We were thrilled to be part of this event,” Pinkston adds. “It was 108 years in the making, so it was certainly worth losing sleep and having to hustle to get down to Chicago.”

Some Cub fans still haven’t slept for fear that it was a dream.