Savannah Ghost Pirates: The Crew Behind the Scenes

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 3:57 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Under the lights of a live professional sporting event is a group of talented individuals who exert a dedicated effort to create an unforgettable fan experience.

From the moment you walk through the doors at Enmarket Arena to cheer on your Savannah Ghost Pirates, there’s a special team of individuals responsible for making sure the fan experience is AAARGuably the most riveting live sporting event held in the Hostess City.

And there’s one role in particular responsible for steering the fan experience ship each night.

“The Director of Game Presentation kind of dictates what the experience is like for our fans when they come to a Ghost Pirates game. Ya know, we want our fans to have a great time when they’re here and we spend a lot of our game day doing creative stuff on the fly. We want to make sure we’re tying in the community. People want to come and see a hockey game, but between the whistles, they want to see something that compels them and is enjoyable—so that’s what my role is, to make sure that whatever GPTV, our production team is doing, it’s engaging the fans every possible second we can,” Bryan Sklover said.

And engaging the fans is the number one priority for in-game co-host, Mac Benefield, who understands the role she has in setting the tone.

“We welcome all the fans in when the doors open, and go through some sponsor reads-of course-make sure everybody’s welcome, everybody is ready to go. One of the best things about this job is that you’re one-on-one with the fans and the hype is pumped up—from beginning to the end,” Mac Benefield said.

And one thing is for sure, the vivaciously energetic Ghost Pirates fans are gifted with enjoying the sport inside one of the best facilities in the league.

“With a building like Enmarket Arena that is state of the art, we have the same kind of amenities that an NHL team has. Matched with our ownership that have all been through the NHL, and we set the bar pretty high for ourselves. We knew the opportunity here to bring a major league experience to Savannah was right in front of us and we’ve done everything we possibly can to take advance of that,” Bryan Sklover said.

A premier experience, executed like a well-oiled machine through the dedicated work of the game presentation team—director, producers, stage managers, camera operators, sound technicians, commentators, and graphic designers like Grant coming together to produce exceptional content:

“There’s a lot of responsibilities, both on the in-game side and on the sales side as well. We have a lot of sponsors that we do work for. There’s a lot of things that go into being a part of the team here. Also, as a designer, we do video editing, we go out into the community with the guys and capture other content as well,” Grant Kosanke said.

And building a state-of-the-art experience for the fans begins with the details.

“What we do is we try to create the kind of creative things that we want to do as the Ghost Pirates brand itself. So, when we score a goal, what do we want the arena to feel like? One of the first things we wanted to do was make sure we have a real goal horn. We’re a port city, we all know what it sounds like when the horns go off from the cargo ships—so we wanted to make sure we had a real boat horn in here and we had to do the work to find that,” Bryan Sklover said.

“When we score a goal, we flash our lights around, we have LEDs, special things on the screens, so we spend a lot of the summer creating those things. And then as we engage in partnerships and sponsorships, we have to fulfill those kinds of things—so the smile cam…or dance cams…or different things like that, we just kind of build that stuff together, and lay it out in a way that feels comfortable, fun, and natural—”

But, there’s also a, well, supernatural story element the game presentation team has the privilege of creating. The story of a ghost pirate—those beyond the ones who lace up.

“When the sun goes down, all the spirits, all the ghosts—and the ghost of these pirates—they raise out from all the squares around Savannah, and they lower down into Enmarket Arena. We are the Ghost Pirates—so that’s an opportunity for us to tell the story of Davy, and of a ghost pirate, and we call our ice the graveyard—we want to fully embrace people the best that we can.”

To craft a long-lasting legacy, that begins this year, with this team, and this crew in their inaugural season.

And they each embrace the pressure of knowing the franchise is:

“Not going anywhere. We are here for the long haul, so if we don’t get it done year one, we’re going to get it done in year two. If we don’t get it done in year two we’re going to do it in year three, four, five, six, and seven all the way to our tenure because we are not going anywhere. We want to be here in Savannah, we love Savannah.”

And Savannah’s devoted Ghost Pirates fans are ready to see what this department can pull off as the team hosts one of the biggest events of the year:

“We have the All-Star Classic coming next year, which is another opportunity for us to kind of flex our muscles and show what we can really do as a production team and as a city and just show the people what we’ve known all along and we’re proving: That Savannah is a hockey town! Savannah loves their professional sports, and we are just so excited to be a part of it and deliver the best we can for the people here.”

To be the best requires resilience and a willingness to press on, no matter what, and for the game entertainment team, they know the Ghost Pirates logo--is a symbol for never quitting.