PHARR, RGV – The appearance of the Pharr All-Stars Under 9s baseball team in the World Series finals in Walnut, California, will be broadcast live on the Internet and live on the City of Pharr’s TV channel.
The first game is against a team from Tijuana, Mexico, on Thursday, starting at 5 p.m. The final will be on Sunday, starting at 1 p.m.
Pharr Mayor Ambrosio ‘Amos’ Hernandez will be heading out to see the team in action on Friday. He held a news conference with the team and its coaches at city hall on Tuesday. In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian he explained why live coverage is so important.
“It has been the desire of the City of Pharr, the Mayor’s Office and the City Commission and our excellent IT Department, led by Jason Arms, to improve communications through the use of technology. Once we knew our kids were advancing, we wanted to show our support by showing their games live. If our residents could not be there with them in person, we wanted them to at least be able to see the games. We advised Jason and his team that he needed to be out with the team, broadcasting live,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said Pharr has excellence and talent in a lot of areas and the City Commission wants to showcase it.
“We were in Laredo, Texas, and Lafayette, Louisiana, to make sure those games got televised and now we are moving on to the World Series in California. We have wonderful coaches and talented children. We will broadcast their games live at our Events Center so the people of Pharr and the whole of the Rio Grande Valley can come and support the team. As we will be the only team in the Rio Grande Valley representing the South region of the United States in the World Series, we want the people of the Valley to be able to watch the team for free, starting Thursday, 5 o’clock, against Mexico.”
Hernandez said coverage of a live sporting event over the Internet via Pharr’s news and magazine site, Pharr.LIFE, and on TV via Channel 12 had never been attempted until the Pharr All-Stars game in Lafayette this past weekend.
“These kids are our future. We want to showcase their talent. We have much talent in the City of Pharr. They are very smart children, they are strong and talented and sometimes economics is the only barrier and if we can get past that we will show the Rio Grande Valley and the rest of the nation that we have great talent in the city of Pharr.”
Arms, Pharr’s IT director, attended the games in Laredo and Lafayette to oversee the video production and will be flying with the team to California on Wednesday.
“Our first adventure in this was in Laredo a couple of months ago when the team was competing for the regional tournament,” Arms said. “We have the technology, through our department, to go out and take a camera feed and make it live over the Internet. So we take that, we send it back to city hall and there we can split it and send it to our Channel 12, which is under the IT department, as well as Pharr.LIFE, which is our online news and magazine product. We can support close to 40,000 viewers at any particular time with our online feeds.”
Arms said the technology being used is not brand new but is not that old either.
“You constantly hear about You Tube Live and Google Hangouts. A lot of that technology has been there but it has not been in the government sector. We have been very proactive in bringing that technology to the forefront. It is not expensive technology. We use the same equipment as somebody using Periscope or running a You Tube channel. We use that same front-end technology. Our back-end technology is a little bit more secure because we are dealing with government infrastructure,” Arms said.
“In Laredo, we went live just on the Internet. In Louisiana we went live on the Internet and on TV. We use cell phone carriers to send it back to city hall. We have had some bumps in the road, just like the baseball team itself. We perfected some of it in Laredo and when we got to Lafayette, we were engaging viewers on our Facebook page, making comments. We had over 920 comments over the course of the weekend, showing support, asking what the score was. I think we have got it down to a science now.”
And so on to California.
“I am really looking forward to what we can do in California. We have started a hashtag for the All-Stars, it is #pharrallstars2015. We are very interested in what kind of response we get. We had over 450 viewers watching it while we were in Lafayette on the Internet. We have the ability to get stats on Internet viewers. We do not have the ability to get stats on Channel 12, unfortunately. That is only available to Time Warner Cable viewers. So, our emphasis, honestly, is putting it online because everybody has a mobile device these days.”
Arms said the same technology is being used to beam city commission, economic development corporation, and bridge board meetings live on the Internet and TV.
“I am pleased that the city commission, our elected officials are very secure in technology. The Valley is not known as a technology location and I am very proud that our elected officials are supporting and encouraging the growth of technology. This is an obvious indicator of what our commission wants and through their leadership and support Pharr will continue to grow technology, both for the city and the region.”