By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
New Orleans, La. -- We are finally here. After spending a week in Nashville watching the league's top women's team compete, we are now in New Orleans for the SEC men's version of March Madness. Although games don't begin until tomorrow, the atmosphere both here in the city and at the event's arena are already high.
It is always fun to see how the SEC can "take over" a certain region, both in the way the fan bases travel to watch the games, but also in the way the city welcomes the conference. We play in professional level facilities, areas that host NBA, NHL and NFL contests. Yet, when the SEC is in town, they turn those places into the league's center stage, with the fans and media in attendance feeling like the entire focus is on the conference. Not an easy task by any means, but something that is seemingly achieved to perfection no matter where we go.
In today's photoblog, I share some sights of what the New Orleans Arena looks like, just 24 hours before tipoff for #SECNOLA (the official "hash tag" for the event). Enjoy the pictures.
The Press Conferences
The main events on Wednesday of the SEC Tournament are the practices and team press conferences. For each of the eight teams that are playing on Thursday, they come a day early to get a lay of the land and speak with the media in attendance. Here's a look at the step up for each school as they came up to talk.
LSU On The Stage
LSU was first up on the podium, as head coach Trent Johnson and two of his players spoke with those media in attendance.
Behind The Scenes
While the action takes place on stage, there is a lot happening behind the scenes to make sure that everyone goes right. Here you can see the technical setup, complete with multiple monitors and several different feeds set up. This is the center of the digital capturing, so that media and fans that aren't here can still see recorded footage later on. Also, radio and TV stations that wish to "plug" into the audio feed can do so here. Lots going on, but all part of the process for Wednesday's events.
Media Interview Area
This is my first trip to the New Orleans Arena for an SEC event (I've come as a fan), so signs like these were very important on this day. There are plenty of people and directions for those not familiar with the area. This particular sign is found right outside of the room we showed a picture of earlier.
Not a bad seat eh? As part of what I said earlier, it is impressive how the staff here can turn an NBA arena into the SEC's home so quickly. As you can see below, all the signage is SEC, and the jumbo tron is already set up for tomorrow's action. This was taken during Arkansas' practice time, so you can vaguely see the Razorbacks on the court below.
An Empty Set
As it customary as the SEC Men's Tournament, the SEC Network will be live on site for most of their coverage. In addition to the normal play-by-play, they will have pre-game and halftime shows shot in the arena. Setup was nearly complete Wednesday, but it does always look a little weird to see an empty desk right in the middle of a basketball arena. But, it will definitely be full tomorrow.
Yup, those basketballs don't like right. They are half white and half normal color I'd guess you say, and they are lined up on the press table today as each team practiced. Each head coach autographs the balls on the table, which are then in turn used for charities and other office events.
Just In Case You Were Lost
This sticker is the first of many you see dotted along the walls here at the New Orleans Arena. Another example of quality signage, making you feel like you are at an event.
Mike At The Mic
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson is at the microphone in this picture. Full disclosure, I worked with Coach Anderson when I was at UAB, and he is one of my favorite people in athletics. In this photo, he talks about the Razorbacks and what they need to do succeed in this week's tournament.