It’s surrounded by beaming red and blue neon signs, WSOP logos and beef jerky advertisements are splattered all across it. Atop the center stage there’s a bright, circular LED sign, indicating what event is being played below. Today it reads WSOP Grudge Matches. Beneath that is the featured final table. It stands on top of an elevated black stage connected to a tunnel where final table players will glamorously emerge from to fight for a bracelet. If the Roman Empire was still around today, their coliseums would probably look something like this. Maybe smaller.
Some people may describe it somewhat differently. “A popular description is that it looks like a UFO, or some sort of extraterrestrial spaceship,” said WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla. “And everyone wants to get in it.”
It’s safe to say the stage has been a hit so far. “I’ve asked dozens of people for their impression about this year’s WSOP,” said Dalla. “And the first thing people are impressed with is the new ESPN stage.”
If you want to come check out the new stage for yourself, spectators are invited to sit in one of the three arena-style rows on either side of the tunnel. The new stage has more than 200 seats, and if none are available you can stand outside it, reveling in the awe of its bright lights and 10-foot beef jerky advertisements.
Even members of the media are pleased with the new stage. There are two press booths with flat screens displaying a live feed of the action going on below. And just in case some railbirds get too loud and rowdy – as they’re bound to do – there are headphones with audio of the action available.
They also provided the press with some sweet leather couches and matching tables. It’s almost too nice for what us poker media have come to expect. We’re waiting to be kicked out at any second.
This new stage is the brain(love?)child of POKER PROductions. They have taken over coverage of the WSOP from 441 Productions. While this is their first year covering the WSOP, they’re pros at what they do.
If you watch televised poker, you’ve probably seen one of their shows. They are the people behind: NBC’s Poker After Dark, NBC’s National Heads-Up Championship, World Series of Poker – Europe, GSN’s High Stakes Poker and now, the 2011 World Series of Poker.