Staging details were hardly the focus at a headline-grabbing event to destroy an infamous baseball, symbolically ending the so-called curse on the Chicago Cubs. The February event, dubbed “Destroy the Ball — Find a Cure,” ended up being a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and took place inside a tent on the street in front of Harry Caray's Restaurant in Chicago. The centerpiece of the day was the “execution” of a baseball owned by fan Steve Bartman — the man who caught a foul ball during the 2003 playoffs, possibly costing the long-suffering Cubs a chance to advance to the World Series.

But blowing the ball up inside a clear plastic box in front of live TV cameras and approximately 200 people inside the tent while thousands of fans milled about outside, wasn't, in and of itself, much of a show. Therefore, organizers brought in performers like Billy Corgan, Rick Nielsen, and Alice Peacock to entertain the crowd.

The plan for their short sets, performed on a 24' × 18' stage supplied by Indestructo Rental Company, Chicago, was put together in just over a week. In particular, the lighting plan was executed in just a matter of days, according to lighting designer Steve Wojda of Upstaging Lighting, Chicago.

“We didn't even know what acts would be performing or what songs until shortly before the show, and some of it, we didn't even know until the people took the stage,” says Wojda. “We also had a challenge with the small size of the tent. We used a lot of floor lighting to make it look bigger than the event really was for the TV cameras, and we just programmed a bunch of generic looks based on the kind of music we were expecting to be played, and went with a variety of those looks during the show. We couldn't pre-program for any song or act, because of the limited time. We used some fill lighting for the cameras, and then we added special effects lighting with the moving instruments.”

To highlight the moment of the ball's destruction, an act carried out by Hollywood special effects guru Michael Lantieri, Wojda says the lighting team did “a lot of strobing and movement of lights all over the place. The ball was actually in a box, but we wanted to help them give the impression to TV viewers that there was lots of movement and craziness in the room.”

Upstaging's Jim Michaelis ran the lights through a Whole Hog II console, mainly relying on moving Martin MAC 600 and 500 fixtures and Coemar iSpots. Chicago's Williams/Gerard Productions handled the audio portion of the event.

Send potential submissions for the CenterStage column to Michael Goldman, SRO senior editor, at mgoldman@primediabusiness.com.