Curling Bubble Takes Over Calgary; Dome Productions at Center of Months-Long Effort
Following familiar protocols, events started in February and will extend into May
Every day, it seems that sports production is inching its way back to normal. The NBA and NHL bubbles were last year, but there is still one more bubble in the sports world: the curling bubble in Calgary, AB, which has been up and running since February and will remain until early May. And curlers, officials, and production teams are all deep in the bubble — hopefully, one of the last of the pandemic era.
“Traditionally, our season begins in November, and the events are normally in different cities across Canada,” says Nicole DiFelice, production manager, Dome Productions. “It has been very different this year, and we’re just trying to maintain the integrity of the bubble.”
The effort began with the Scotties Tournament of Hearts Feb. 18-28, are ongoing with the Tim Hortons Brier March 5-14; and will continue with the Home Hardware Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Championship March 18-25 and the BKT Tires & OK Tires 2021 World Men’s Curling Championship April 2-11. Wrapping up the action will be the Champions Cup April 14-18, Players’ Championship April 20-25, and World Women’s Curling Championship April 30-May 9. Then, Switzerland Curling TV takes over as host for the women’s championship.
Dome Pacific is onsite as the center of the production effort, and a second truck will be added for the Men’s World Championships.
“We do have a relief crew, so we have about 41 people onsite,” says DiFelice, “and, with the announcers and production, have about 48 people.
“It’s a true bubble in the sense that nobody is allowed to leave once they have entered until they are done,” she continues. “The bubble includes two hotels, one with the broadcast crew and the other with players and curling executives. Both the hotels have been taken over, so they have the run of the place.”
She notes that anybody entering the bubble does have to get a test prior to arriving at the hotel. They then quarantine for two days before they can head to the Markin MacPhail Centre, which is where all the competitions occur. Everyone is shuttled between the hotels and the Centre, and there are separate entrances for the broadcast team and the executives and players.
“At the Centre,” DiFelice adds, “there is a final test, and they are tested every other day until they leave.”
Curling events can sometimes have five sheets of competition at the same time, but, at the MacPhail Centre, there is room for only four due to the need for social distancing. That makes things quite tight for the production teams and also has meant longer days.
“We’re trying to maintain distance with the curlers,” DiFelice explains, “so we didn’t add anything. But we also didn’t want to take anything away, so everything is just a little more distanced.
“With the microphones on the players,” she continues, “we have additional mics to give us time to clean them between uses. I can admit that, in past years, we would just pass the mic from one to the next. We have twice as many so that, when a game ends, we don’t need to reuse them.”