This event is the pinnacle of the integration of broadcast, corporate, live and sport.
Fifty years of tennis at the Rotterdam Ahoy
The jubilee edition of the event, which until this year was known as the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, played between February 11 and 19, was a veritable festival of tennis for a number of reasons. For example, the tournament’s Director, Richard Krajicek, succeeded in enlisting an impressive field of competitors, including no fewer than five of the top 10 players. Representing the Netherlands, Botic van de Zandschulp, Tallon Griekspoor, Gijs Brouwer and Tim van Rijthoven took to the hard courts. Prestigious is an extremely fitting word for this annual top sports event in every sense. Prestigious in terms of the names of the players and winners over the years. Also prestigious when you consider the quality and impact of this tennis tournament as a networking event. Tens of thousands of corporate guests spend time in the VIP village during that full week. They visit the dozens of inviting company presentations and stands, participate in seminars and presentations and maintain business relationships while enjoying premium quality catering. They watch the matches in special lounges. Another 70,000 tennis fans present their tickets for inspection en route to a grandstand seat.
From event to broadcast
“But it was mainly the way it used to be, because audiences were able to be present without restrictions,” Jeroen Boere adds. He has been Faber’s link with the venue for many years. “After no spectators were allowed to attend at all in 2021 because of COVID-19, there was a risk of the same happening in 2022. However, the organizers chose to physically arrange the event in such a way that a handful of fans could come in.”
There were only 1,250 of them, compared to what would normally be around 100,000. For Faber, the 2021 edition, i.e. without an audience, resulted in a completely new approach to the tennis tournament project at the Rotterdam Ahoy. Boere explains: “We suddenly had to view it as the production and live recording of a TV program, so a broadcast rather than purely an event. This meant that the entire technical and audiovisual design that we had ready for the top sports event had to be turned on its head.”
Talk about challenges. But it did result in the reformulated concept with which Faber has supported the organization in the audiovisual field since then. “We now serve both the hall and television. We supplied and installed dozens of LED screens, a flypack, cameras, play out equipment and an ENG unit. Before that, the field of play was lined by panels of wood or plastic, or sometimes printed canvases.” Above the center court, there was a suspended cube with LED screens on eight sides: four large and four small. Boere continues: “For example, we use software developed in-house to display real-time match scores graphically. But we also show images from Hawkeye, the official competition software used to check arbitrary decisions.”
Super service moment
The Faber crew, 12 strong and many more during build-up and dismantling, once again pulled its weight behind the scenes of this jubilee edition. Although they didn’t manage to remain completely anonymous this year. During the final of all times, proper action was required. After Daniil Medvedev served the ball into the boarding at no less than 201 kilometers per hour, one of the LED panels came loose. Of course, the cameras caught the moment and what followed. “Janick Sinner tried to click back the detached panel, but let’s face it, you’re either a professional tennis player or you’re one of Faber’s,” Boere jokes as he rewatches the video clip, which went viral. “Our colleague Jurjen Dijkstra hurried to the scene of the disaster, resolved the problem in an instant and disappeared as quickly as he had come.” He received appreciative applause, including from King Willem-Alexander, who was in attendance. “A great service from Medvedev; super service from Faber,” read social media posts.
Boere and his crew on site look back with satisfaction on a job more than well done. “This event is the pinnacle of the integration of broadcast, corporate, live and sport. Businesslike, in terms of the appearance and with a very high level of finish. It demonstrates in all its facets what we as Faber are capable of in multidisciplinary teams.” It helps that Faber and Rotterdam Ahoy now know each other inside out. “But all the drawings and scripts are made from scratch every year. The tournament is developing and the technology is developing, too. Therefore, as far as we are concerned, nothing is routine, even though we have been working on this project with a permanent core team for many years now. We just tackle it every time like it’s the first time. Only then can you achieve your top performance.”