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It’s a Big Game When the Goodyear Blimp is There!

The Goodyear Blimp is an icon in the sporting world. It signifies the importance of a game, and it helped revolutionize broadcast television.

Article originally published by The ATLX Channel. www.atlxtv.com

By Jason Lewis
Feature Writer

Sporting events are known for elite athletes, cheerleaders, and tailgate parties. But a game is not a big one unless it has the Goodyear Blimp flying overhead. There is no doubt about it, because that blimp only shows up to a sporting event of prominence.

“Everybody has the same reaction when they see the Goodyear Blimp,” said Elizabeth Flynn, Goodyear Airship Public Relations Manager. “Everybody reverts back to when they were 10 years old. It just gets everybody so excited. It’s a throwback to a more gracious era when travel was more leisurely.”

The Goodyear Blimp Takes Flight

The first Goodyear Blimp took flight in 1925, and it was first used for a sporting event in 1955 for the Rose Bowl Game. Partnering with NBC, the Goodyear Blimp provided the first transcontinental broadcast.

“It pretty much changed how television is able to transmit signals from one place to the other,” Flynn said. “Now it is all done by satellite, but back then that was a huge technological advancement. As television was in its infancy, we grew up right along side them.”

The blimp is not only a fixture for the spectators at the sporting event, but for the television audiences at home. The blimp grew up with the innovations in television, and networks see the value in having the blimp as a part of their broadcasts.

“They always tell us that when the blimp is overhead, everybody gets excited. When the blimp is overhead, it is known as a big game,” Flynn said.

The blimp is not flying overhead just for advertising purposes, it greatly enhances the television broadcast. The blimp provides viewers an angle of the game that cameras inside a stadium cannot provide. And the blimp is just as effective for indoor sports, such as basketball, as it is for outdoor sports.

“We can deliver what the [television] producers like to call a ‘money shot,’” Flynn said.

“We can give the viewing audience a much better sense of the venue itself. Here in California, when we’re overhead Staples Center, you see Staples emblazoned all across that rooftop, and you’ll see similar lighting systems on all of the major venues around us.

“It provides the viewers with what we call ‘beauty shots,’” Flynn continued. “Our cameras allow us, for example, when we’re over Staples Center, we can zero in on Dodger Stadium, the Hollywood sign. We can give them a shot all the way out to the horizon line and capture sunsets. Beautiful overhead shots of the city at night. It adds a lot of production value to a show when you can cut away to something that really opens up the universe to something more than the arena or stadium.”

The camera angles that the blimp provides is not only used by the networks, but by game officials as well. NFL referees have used the wide-angle views of the field for instant replay to determine if there were too many players on the field, and horse racing has used it for photo finishes.

Since the Goodyear Blimp first took flight over the Rose Bowl, it has been seen over many major sporting events. Outside of major professional and college sports, it flies over the Little League World Series, Triple Crown horse races, surfing championships, and many other sporting events.

Goodyear is able to cover so many events with the use of three blimps: The Spirit of America, based in Carson, California; The Spirit of Goodyear, based in Mogadore, Ohio; and The Spirit of Innovation, based in Pompano Beach, Florida. All three blimps are capable of traveling cross country, but typically covers sporting events in the region that it is stationed.

The Goodyear Brand

The blimp is a fixture in sports, but that was not how Goodyear first entered the sporting world. In 1901, Goodyear provided Henry Ford with racing tires. The company went on to be the most successful tire supplier in Formula One, with more starts, wins, and championships than any other tire supplier. Goodyear is the sole tire supplier for NASCAR.

Partnering with NASCAR, Goodyear has a Support our Troops program, which delivers over $20 million a year in care packs and other requested items to active troops on the front lines, as well as support to the family members of soldiers.

Goodyear has a long and rich history in sports, as it has been impactful in advertising and broadcasting. With three new more advanced blimps ready to take flight in 2014, Goodyear looks to remain a fixture in the sporting world.

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