In November of last year the design team at truss and custom structure manufacturer, Total Structures, were given a challenge by local customer Phil Burke of Phil Burke Rigging. For the past 16 years, on behalf of event producers Party Planners West Inc. (PPW), Phil Burke Rigging has been in charge of rigging the structures helping create the NFL Experience, which takes place during the Super Bowl festivities. For this year’s NFL Experience in South Florida, the NFL had as part of their Super Bowl graphic “look” an existing icon in the shape of a field pylon, which represented the concept of #1.

Based on the location of the NFL Experience at the Dolphin Stadium, PPW’s President, Patricia Ryan, envisioned an “Icon” that would be seen as a major focal point that would be dominant against the scale of the stadium. This provided parameters for the project and defined the challenge to Total Structures to design a structure that would be approximately 100 feet in height, that could be hung from four portable cranes and could house and exhibit the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the course of the nine day event.

An additional challenge was to clad the entire structure in orange Tenax safety fence material to help create the effect of a huge end zone pylon emerging from the center of the Dolphin Stadium’s parking lot, where the Experience would be constructed. Last but not least the final brief was to produce the structure from as many standard truss products as possible so as to allow it to be re-configured in different formats for future events.

After much collaboration between PPW’s senior vice president of Production, Sean Connolly, Phil Burke, and Total’s Adrian Forbes-Black, the final solution was a structure created from generic Medium Duty 20.5” square truss. Four grids of MD truss, approximately 20 feet square, would be hung directly under each other with large diameter steel wire ropes to help create the overall shape of the centerpiece. Due to the high loads seen at the top of the structure, the initial ring of truss, which would be directly connected to the cranes, were designed as a “double stack” of the 20.5” truss. With both rings of truss connected by custom nodes at every junction the overall effect was that of a much larger truss without diverting from the requirement of using only standard products.

With high winds quite likely in South Florida at that time of year it was necessary to engineer the structure to resist 100 mph winds, which in turn presented its own set of challenges. The answer was to apply over 35,000 lbs of ballast through the addition of Total’s unique Ballast Truss.

Thirty two of the 100 gallon single tank trusses, eight per side, were vertically stacked and attached to four corner towers and in turn helped create a 20ft by 20ft by 20ft tall space which would later be internally dressed to create the trophy viewing area. This space was completed through the addition of a peaked roof that would be covered with a clear skin to allow the guests viewing the trophy a clear view up through the center of the structure and to see a 12ft fiberglass football that was hung in the center of the Icon.

The structure was then externally clad with the Tenax material by means of a custom “sandwich” plate design that allowed it to be coupled to the truss with conventional half couplers and it to be tensioned from the floor to remove any slack. After being powder coated to match the orange color of the fence the plates would become almost invisible from the ground.

Finally, various signage promoting the event and reinforcing the Icon as the centerpiece were hung on the outside of the Tenex via a near invisible steel wire rope system. The largest and heaviest signage on one side, that exclaiming “SBXLI” and the NFL shield were rigged from CM Lodestar chain hoists hidden in the top truss using a custom chain diversion system to allow the chain to leave the truss and divert up and over the structure to the correct position for the signage to hang. This design also allowed the signage to be removed extremely quickly in the threat of high winds.

When lit from both the inside and outside of the structure the 100 foot Icon came to life and easily achieved its goal of becoming the obvious centerpiece to both the NFL Experience event and the festivities surrounding it.