FORT LAUDERDALE – It was like something out of a movie. World Cup champion Lionel Messi, widely regarded as the best soccer player in the world, created giant shock waves when he passed up offers from better-known clubs to sign with the struggling Inter Miami team.
Anticipation was high when the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner suited up for his first game on Friday July 21, but Messi, still recovering from an exhausting travel schedule, had to sit on the bench for the first 54 minutes. Then, with the sellout crowd standing and cheering wildly, he entered the game and proceed to kick the winning goal!
Pure magic, to be sure, but it wasn’t the first storybook moment for Messi with Inter Miami. A few days before his winning kick, the superstar was greeted at the team’s DRV Pink Stadium in Fort Lauderdale with a dazzling welcome celebration that evoked the kind of grandiose imagery fit for a hero ready to usher in a new era.
Helping to create this heady atmosphere was a bright, bold, and colorful lighting design from José Laria, lighting designer Andres Albornoz and the entire team at LPS Production that drew on the intense output of over 100 CHAUVET Professional IP65 rated fixtures.
Lining the 100-foot-long runway that Messi and his family walked down to greet fans and transforming the stadium with brilliant aerial effects that worked in concert with pyro displays, the lighting set a mood that was New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl halftime, and world championship celebration all rolled into one.
“Our goal was to create a set that looked like big and award-show like,” said Gerardo Rodriguez, of the LPS team, which included, in addition to production manager/lighting designer Andres Albornoz, programmer Nesmar E. Medina, and crew chief Anthony Bolano.
“Andres created a beautiful set that allowed us to develop this look quickly (the crew had eight hours of setup time), and Nesmar brought the set to life with plenty of eye candy and saturated colors throughout.”
The temporary home of Inter Miami until the team’s new stadium is completed, DRV Pink holds 21,000. It was filled to capacity for the Welcome event when the entire center of the stadium along with the edges of the field were covered with light.
Providing much of that light were Maverick Storm 4 Profiles, which were positioned over the goal posts, Maverick Storm 2 WashBeams arranged on the centerfield grass, and Maverick Storm 1 Washes on the B-Stage and VIP area.
In addition to the Storm fixtures, the lighting rig featured 48 COLORado PXL Bar 16 motorized battens, which provided a defining visual element around the main stage, and 24 Color STRIKE M motorized strobes that lined the edges of the field.
“Using the Color STRIKE M as audience blinders and painting the whole audience with color really brought the crowd into the celebration,” said Rodriguez. “Also using the ring and the built-in macros on the Storm 2 WashBeam made for some superb looks with ease of programming.”
Rodriguez also valued the IP65 rating of the fixtures. “South Florida is notorious for thunderstorms and evening showers specially this time of the year,” he commented. “We wanted to ensure that regardless of the elements, the equipment would survive.”
Indeed, the Lionel Messi Welcome Celebration, which was originally scheduled to start at 6:30 was delayed for two hours because of a storm. But even the heavy rains could not dampen the spirits of fans eager to welcome their new hero. For them, it was an evening to remember – and those memories were made all the more vivid and special with light.