Super Bowl LVII: Brought To You By The 12th Man
As the Kansas City Chiefs took on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII this past weekend, a few Aggies were behind the scenes making sure fans could see every bit of the action.
Helping lead the charge was Matt Alvarado ’20, a Texas A&M University graduate and former 12th Man Productions staffer from Pharr, Texas, who now serves as chief engineer for the Arizona Cardinals’ in-venue video production group. Alvarado oversees the four video boards and roughly 1,000 TVs inside State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona — the home of this year’s Super Bowl. Alvarado and his team also coordinate with external TV crews, helping them connect to the stadium’s in-house video infrastructure to bring the big game to viewers across the country.
“On a good day, I actually don’t do much during the game,” Alvarado said. “I sit and monitor every single source we have going on, so for this one it was easily over 100 different video sources… I’m watching all of them to make sure they look good and we don’t lose signal anywhere.”
Last weekend, he had his biggest audience yet, with roughly 68,000 spectators in the stadium for Super Bowl LVII and well over 100 million watching from home.
That’s lots of eyes, and lots of pressure, Alvarado said — especially since he and his team had spent the previous month gutting their control infrastructure and rebuilding it from the ground up with help from a team of 20 student interns from nearby Glendale Community College.
The Super Bowl served as the official debut for the stadium’s newly upgraded system: “A lot of people thought we were crazy for doing that,” Alvarado said.
Fortunately, he was able to call in some help from two fellow Aggies — 12th Man Productions Chief Broadcast Engineer Zack Bacon and Broadcast TV Engineer Jonathan Kerr, who made the trip from College Station to Glendale to lend a hand in the control room.
“It was cool to get to reunite and do another show together,” Alvarado said. And by the end of the night, any doubts about the new system had been put to rest.
“We made it happen without a single technical glitch,” he said. “When the clocks hit zero at the end of the game, I was very, very relieved.”
For Alvarado, it was the latest high point in a career he never expected to have. People are often surprised to find out that his degree is not in engineering or telecommunications but rather in nutrition.
“I thought I was going to go to medical school,” Alvarado said. “But I started working as a student at 12th Man Productions, and I just fell in love with the whole production side of things. When I got recruited to come to Arizona, I thought, ‘Why not give it a try at the professional level.’ Little did I know I was going to be doing the Super Bowl.”
Since starting the new job, he’s continued to draw on all the knowledge and skills he picked up during his time at Texas A&M.
“People will look at me like, ‘How did you learn this stuff?’ And I owe it all back to 12th Man Productions because the crew there really gives the students hands-on opportunities,” Alvarado said. “The resources that A&M has and the talented staff that’s there to help teach the students really helped me grow to be where I’m at.”