CHICAGO — Jerry Reinsdorf has built a new Stadium in Chicago.
Its capacity is unknown, even to him.
"The potential is unlimited, I think," said Reinsdorf, chairman of the Bulls and White Sox. "I don't know how fast it will grow, but I really think we have a great group of partners and there's so much synergy here."
Stadium is a multi-platform national sports channel. It is 10 months old, employs 120 or so people on Chicago's West Side and is out to reach sports fans however -- and wherever -- it can.
Stadium already can be found several places online, including watchstadium.com as well as Facebook, Twitter and Twitch. Depending on where one lives, it is also available on over-the-air TV and/or cable. In some locales, it's seen at gas pumps, bus stops and in elevators.
The reach of its game coverage and other programming is poised to grow as it aligns with more broadcast stations and cuts deals with more online platforms.
It's a matter of time before Stadium offers audio content via podcasts and/or satellite radio. So coming across its live sports, studio shows, interview programs, vintage content or clips at some point is likely; many people may already have.
Those who attend a Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field will find Stadium presenting baseball highlights on the video board in center field.
That basketball game in November when Alabama had to finish against Minnesota with only three players because of ejections, fouls and an injury? The Crimson Tide's 89-84 loss to the Gophers was on Stadium.
Stadium carries basketball and football, along with lacrosse, wrestling, hockey, soccer, volleyball, water polo and even offbeat stuff such as Ultimate on occasion. It is positioning itself to appeal to the underserved with its coverage by making inroads into 21st century media with its multiple platforms and potential revenue streams.
"Brooks Boyer, who's our marketing guy, came to me a few years ago and told me he had this friend, Jason Coyle, who had an idea," Reinsdorf recalled, tracing the roots of Stadium to the launch of Silver Chalice, the Sox's forward-thinking digital media venture.
"The idea was obviously digital sports, that there was nobody in the field. So we got involved and it just grew."
The foundation of Stadium was Silver Chalice's 2014 launch of 120 Sports, a digital sports media outlet headquartered at Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios campus, then Campus Insiders, which mined the passion for college athletics.
Folding in Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group's American Sports Network, Stadium was born last summer. Other partners include Major League Baseball, the NHL and the PGA Tour.
The move of Stadium a few blocks from the Harpo compound to the building on the east end of the new United Center atrium came earlier this year. But Stadium already was planted firmly in the nation's middle in contrast to its would-be sports media rivals -- Fox Sports 1 based on the West Coast, ESPN in the East -- and not just geographically.
"We're trying to counter-program the major networks with news and analysis," said Coyle, Stadium's CEO. "We feel the other networks are very similar in terms of their look, their approach, their story selection.
"We're actually not big into opinionists and hot takes; we're going with insiders. We go with information. We go with news. We like to go with local sources, put them on camera, hear what's actually happening. ... Then if there's emotion, it's because it's actually impacting that market, those teams and people there, rather than manufactured outrage from one of the coasts."
Right now, Stadium is available in parts of the Chicago area as a secondary digital TV channel over the air via suburban WRJK. But if Sinclair completes its deal for control of Tribune Broadcasting, which includes WGN-9 among its assets, Stadium's local availability is expected to get a major upgrade.
"They're already the largest owner of TV stations, and not only can they carry our stuff on a linear basis, they can promote it," Reinsdorf said of Sinclair.
Anyone coming to the United Center in recent months for a game or concert or to buy souvenirs may have noticed Stadium's ground-floor studio, which opens out into the atrium with the Michael Jordan statue.
"I love being in the center of the national sports scene," Coyle said. "And we're the only ones immersed in a live venue, where we have actual fans going to and from events, the energy and excitement of people coming in and out of the United Center hundreds of times a year."
Said Reinsdorf: "That location is going to help the programming because the interview potential is terrific. We have all these basketball and hockey teams coming through and it's easy to get guys to just walk over, so that helps. We can develop some nice programming that way."
More than just speak with athletes and to fans, Stadium wants to avail itself of the interactivity many of its platforms offer. That makes it possible for viewers to alert the on-site crew to the botched pronunciation of a player's name or have an announcer own his premature dismissal of a losing team just before it rallies.
It also can mean a proud dad serving in the army overseas gaining momentum for #interviewcheerleadersidney during a Wyoming-Texas State football telecast on Facebook. The result: Stadium's sideline reporter talked to the man's daughter during breaks in the action -- and the emotion welled up.
As it grows accustomed to being a 24/7 outlet, Stadium intends to produce and present occasional documentaries. Among them this fall will be "Pooh," an inside look at the arc of former Bulls star Derrick Rose's career that promises behind-the-scenes video shot over the years by those around him that Rose and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, amassed and turned over to producers at the channel.
Without question, the type of content is all important.
What makes Stadium a media player to watch, however, is the many ways it can be seen, from the mobile phone in one's hand to a big-screen plasma at home, with or without ads, with or without running fan commentary, live or not. There's even a premium subscription add-on available through some platforms.
"We can go direct to the consumer or we can go through all these other online sites and have all these live games," Reinsdorf said. "So we have content we can shoot through any number of outlets."
Like Reinsdorf's Bulls and White Sox, his Stadium is being built for the future.
"I think it's going to be a powerhouse," he said.