Sky Truck: the Actros 1848 as a backstage lounge
Economics & Logistics
The new Sky Actros is the backstage lounge for international footballers and presenters when football matches are broadcast. Driver Ingo Burk delicately manages the feel-good zone.
"There are never quite enough jelly babies, unfortunately", calls out Christoph Metzelder with a wink and a friendly prod in Ingo Burk's side. "You again" laughs the chastised driver. Burk, whom everyone simply calls Ingo, is in his element, he hurries off to his Actros to replenish his supply of jelly babies. The entire Sky editorial team with Sebastian Hellmann, Wolff-Christoph Fuss and Jessica Kastrop crowd into the backstage trailer together with football experts Metzelder, Dietmar Hamann and former World Cup footballer Lothar Matthäus.
While some of those present are handed the latest statistics from the Opta database, others follow the Bundesliga afternoon football matches on the ten monitors on the wall. Here in Stuttgart there's a little time to go yet, because kick-off for the VfB Stuttgart vs Mainz 05 game is at 6.30 p.m. Burk nimbly dodges through the crowds, replenishes the apple pies, and gathers the first empty plastic cups – on his suntanned bald head, beads of sweat are beginning to appear. Seven hours ago it was a good deal more peaceful in the shade of the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart. And then Burk came.
At 9.14 a.m. that same morning: A short hoot of the horn brings some movement to the crowd of people. The stewards know. They – and all the others in the German Bundesliga business – know this striking silver-coloured Actros and its driver: Ingo Burk has arrived. The rush for the television transmission can now really pick up speed. 52-year-old Burk carefully brings his Actros 1848 with its special trailer round to manoeuvre it into the parking space reserved for it. He is in luck, because for him and his truck Stuttgart is actually a home game. Although Burk, who hails from the northern city of Rostock, is a true "Northern light" (as northerners are called here), Fitout, the company for which he works, is based in Weinstadt-Strümpfelbach, about 15 kilometres from Baden-Württemberg's capital city, Stuttgart.
This small company specialised in the construction, outfitting and operation of trailers for television transmissions has been in business for almost 30 years now. With their mobile office and backstage vehicles, from Friday to Monday, Fitout provides Sky television with part of the essential infrastructure to transmit the evening matches of the German Bundesliga and its 2nd division.
Burk took over of his truck in Weinstadt. However, he usually drives the truck himself from the game on the previous evening to the next place of action. He values highly the spacious interior and comfortable bed because his job as driver of the Sky special trailer often requires him to spend the night aboard the vehicle – with his previous vehicle he clocked up 85,000 kilometres in the 2012/2013 season.
As soon as we arrive, Burk shows us what it is that makes a "special trailer". He deftly opens all kinds of flaps and drawers, and in less than half an hour the trailer has spread out to almost double its original width. Inside, a complete backstage area opens up with little meeting rooms, computer workplaces, a dressing room complete with make-up table, a kitchenette and a large lounge area.
While others are still looking in amazement, Burk is again running at top speed: "I'll just get this done quickly." With a few quick movements he installs seating corners, puts chairs in place and sets up a printer. Then he adjusts the satellite dish to be able to receive Sky transmissions aboard the truck. All Burk's movements follow a precise sequence. "I've been doing this job for five years now – one year of which has been with this new model. With four events each weekend plus Cup matches and Champions' League, you soon get to grips with what has to be done."
Now, with equipment and furnishings in place, comes the ignition of the next working stage: From bottles of Coke to packets of peanuts, the driver conjures up drinks and snacks from all the corners, nooks and crannies of the trailer and skilfully arranges them in little bowls, racks and trays. Why he can do this so well: "I'm actually a trained restaurateur, among other things", reveals the driver from Rostock. By "among other things" he means – apart from his 20 years in the gastronomy trade as an in-house tester for Maverick and a bar owner in Munich – his training as an automotive mechanic and electronics technician. Incidentally, this is also where he acquired his HGV license and his certification as a high-voltage electrician. He needs the latter in particular for himself. With a background like this, this robust Jack-of-all-trades is not so easily caught off balance. "But on the road I can rely on my new Actros", says Burk. "It has never once let me down. Plus it has incredibly frugal diesel consumption values and impressive safety equipment, such as Proximity Control Assist and Active Brake Assist 3."
12.03 p.m.: Everything is ready for the first onslaught. "I'll just drive to the store for a spot of shopping", calls Burk and off he goes. By the time he returns to the Arena a bit later with bread rolls, fresh fruit and the ingredients for his special soup, the first presenters and experts have also started trickling in. Burk makes use of the Sky team's editorial discussion to prepare the finger food.
Meanwhile, parked in the neighbouring parking space is the outside broadcast vehicle of production company Sportcast, who capture all the official images of the Bundesliga games. This truck houses Sky's own production team. This is where the television channel's editorial team produces the top games broadcasts with previews, interviews, graphics and analyses. "From the outside broadcast vehicle the images are sent to the broadcasting centre in Ismaning", explains Thomas Kuhnert, Manager of Sports Communications. "The images from all the games are received in Ismaning before they are transmitted to the living rooms of the TV viewers." According to Kuhnert's calculations, Sky's Bundesliga match days see over 550 people at work in the stadiums and back in Ismaning – week in, week out.
Lothar Matthäus has now arrived and greets everyone before disappearing in the direction of the set. Christoph Metzelder and Didi Hamann go through a couple of sequences with presenter Sebastian Hellmann – and then things get serious.
5.16 p.m.: The experts, now in their full Sky outfit, go through the stadium tunnel to the Mercedes-Benz Arena turf. There, the "experts' desk" awaits them. Another eleven minutes until they go on air. Burk, too, casts a look around the stadium, which is slowly starting to fill up.
Suddenly presenter Hellmann jumps up: "Ingo come here, sit down for a while." He doesn't have to say that twice, Ingo quickly takes the free seat – there still has to be time for a joke, even two minutes before the game starts. Then Burk rapidly sneaks out of the picture and into his berth aboard the great GigaSpace cab. "Afterwards I will have to dismantle everything quickly, and then it's off to Cologne for me. But right now I can take a break", says Burk. For he also knows: the next game is always the hardest.