tom jones' two cents
A Two Cents celebration of today's Bucs-Bears game in London has a Q&A with the producer of today's broadcast on Fox, our picks for the best stadiums in the world, and our five most memorable Tampa Bay sports moments that occurred outside the United States. Enjoy, ol' chap.
Five coolest sports stadiums outside the United States
1. Wembley Stadium
The host of today's Bucs-Bears game is considered by many to be the finest sports stadium in the world. It's a state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2007 to replace the old Wembley, the classic stadium that hosted such memorable events as the 1948 Olympics, the 1966 World Cup and 1985's Live Aid concert. The new stadium — England's national stadium — holds 90,000, making it the second-largest stadium in Europe. Today is the fifth NFL regular-season game at Wembley.
2. Camp Nou
This is the home of the soccer team FC Barcelona (roughly translated, the name means "new ground''). It holds 99,354, making it the largest stadium in Europe. Aside from hosting one of the world's premier soccer teams since opening in 1957, Camp Nou also has hosted two UEFA Champions League finals, the 1992 Summer Olympics and countless concerts.
3. Beijing National Stadium
Better known as the Bird's Nest, the national stadium of China was built for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The $423 million stadium is considered the world's largest steel structure. These days it hosts soccer and track and field events.
4. Old Trafford
This is perhaps the most legendary stadium in English soccer. It's English soccer's version of Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. Opened in 1910, Old Trafford has been the home of Manchester United, the most famous soccer team in the world, for more than a century, except when it was under construction after being bombed during World War II. Even the cool name invokes special memories.
5. Qi Zhong Stadium
Our pick for the most unique stadium in sports. This Shanghai stadium has a steel roof made up of eight sliding petal-shaped pieces that make the roof look like a magnolia when it is open. But it also closes to keep spectators and athletes dry and comfortable during unpleasant weather. It holds only around 15,000. And what is played there? Mostly tennis and a little bit of basketball.
Five biggest Tampa Bay sports moments occurring outside the United States
1. St. Louis saves the season
Marty St. Louis' goal in double overtime of Game 6 the 2004 Stanley Cup final in Calgary saved the Lightning's season. Literally. With the Lightning down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, St. Louis' goal 33 seconds into the second overtime sent the series back to Tampa Bay for Game 7, which the Lightning won 2-1.
2. Haislett strikes gold
St. Petersburg native Nicole Haislett had a great high school (Lakewood) and college (Florida) resume, but the highlight of her swimming career came when she captured three gold medals, including the 200-meter freestyle, at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
3. Bennett strikes gold
Plant City native and Brandon resident Brooke Bennett won a gold medal in at the 800-meter freestyle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but she pulled in two golds (400 free, above, and 800 free) at the 2000 Sydney Games.
4. Cully's return
Lightning center John Cullen made an emotional, triumphant return to the ice after overcoming cancer during an exhibition game in Innsbruck, Austria, on Sept. 18, 1998. The Lightning trained in Austria that year, and Cullen, playing his first game in more than 18 months, scored in Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory against Buffalo. Cullen appeared in only four regular-season games before retiring and becoming a coach, but his return to the ice remains one of the most dramatic moments in Tampa Bay sports history.
5. Winky wins a title
St. Petersburg's Winky Wright had to go to Europe early in his career to find someone to promote his fights. He ended up fighting a string of matches in France, including a loss to Julio Cesar Vasquez in his first title fight. But on Feb. 4, 1995, in Beziers, France, Wright defeated Tony Marshall by unanimous decision to win the NABF middleweight championship.
Barry Landis has been with Fox Sports since its inception in 1994 and will produce today's Bucs-Bears broadcast, which will be called by broadcasters Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa. Landis spoke with St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tom Jones last week about the broadcast.
Is there a difference between doing a game in London and a game in the United States?
In the end, it is a football game, and fans of the Bucs and the Bears and of the NFL are watching the game. Obviously, we are going to recognize that the game is in London and that it is special. But it's still a football game. That is our priority.
What's the hardest part to doing the game?
Just getting acclimated. The schedule is thrown off because the teams are not on their normal routines. But once the game arrives, it should be normal.
Does the NFL ask you to push the game being in London?
No. I guess you could say it's implied. But we would recognize that the game is in London anyway. It is special to be there. It is a different atmosphere. Our job, however, is to produce the best football broadcast we can.
What is Wembley Stadium like to do a game?
State of the art. It's like doing a game at the new Cowboys Stadium. It's a state-of-the-art facility, for sure.
Do you have a normal crew for the game?
Pretty much. We will have 13 cameras overall, most run by our people, and all by people who know the game of football. … And we're all used to the equipment we will use over there. There's a bit of conversion to be done in terms of measurements of tape and so forth, but it's not a problem. I expect the game to go off without any issues.