Michael Schaffer, Managing Editor
The Daily Iowegian
---- — Mark Belloma, of Centerville, returned last week after an extended stay in Sochi, Russia where he helped to install lights from Oskaloosa-based Musco Lighting for the 2014 Winter Olympic games.
Belloma, who has worked for 15 years at Musco Lighting, said he made three trips to Sochi, with the first in September. He came home for one week each for Thanksgiving and for Christmas, but otherwise the rest of those days were spent in Sochi.
Belloma, 48, said he spent a total of 86 days in Sochi doing his part for the team effort to install temporary lighting for the Winter Olympic games.
“It wasn’t just me. It was a total team effort,” Belloma said about Musco Lighting’s approach to the Olympics in Sochi. “We had a bunch of Musco people over there.”
Belloma said part of his responsibilities while in Sochi were to coordinate and secure housing for his fellow Musco employees, work with the Olympic Broadcasting Committee, set up warehouse facilities and coordinating with venue managers for lighting installation.
“Once I got over there they said, ‘Here’s what we’re lighting. Here’s what we’re going to do,’” Belloma said. “‘And just make it happen.’”
Belloma said he faced obstacles like logistics, language barrier and getting the equipment to the venues.
“There were a lot of obstacles,” Belloma said. “It was difficult. It was definitely challenging. The language barrier was real tough.”
As it turned out, Belloma said, Musco Lighting ended up lighting every venue.
Part of Musco’s mission was to make the lighting bright enough for television coverage during the athletic events and during press conferences and the “mix zone” where athletes do TV interviews.
Some of what Musco Lighting took to Sochi complimented the existing lighting already in place, something Belloma called “legacy lighting,” which is good enough for spectators but not for television.
“But when it comes to TV lighting you need taller poles,” Belloma said. “The cameras got to be able to pick it up. It takes a whole different set of lights to do that. That’s probably the primary stuff that we’re doing.”
Belloma said they installed approximately 500 lights and 57 poles. He said there were as many as five to six lights were on a single pole.
Belloma said Musco chartered a 747 to get their gear to Sochi. And it took more than one flight.
Belloma said he’s going back to Sochi in early March to take down the lighting they installed.
Belloma said he traveled to London for the last Summer Olympic games to help install lights. For the other Olympic games Musco lighted, Belloma said he and a group of others did lighting designs and drawings.
Belloma said Musco Lighting has supplied lighting for the last seven Olympic games.
Belloma said his primary title at Musco is project manager. His primary responsibly is the installation of permanent lighting around the world.
And that’s something he’s set to do because Belloma is scheduled to fly off to Poland to oversee the installation of permanent lighting for a new athletic complex.
Belloma said he’s traveled around the world for Musco installing lights. But one thing doesn’t change, Belloma said, and that’s the delight on people’s faces when those lights are turned on.
Belloma talked about a project scheduled for the island of Antigua some 11 years ago but only just recently was completed due to inclement weather and local land possession issues.
“It’s just a little, small field, a little soccer field,” Belloma said. “But you know what, when we got the lights up and on, all of the people started coming out of the woodwork and all of these kids are just running around and everybody just shaking my hand just like I had done some miracle for them. They’ve just been waiting for it for so long. It’s gratifying for me to be able to see that kind of stuff and those communities getting their lights that they’ve worked so hard for.”
Belloma said the adventure, travel and working with people from other cultures are the things he likes about his job.
“I’ve been all over the world for Musco,” Belloma said. “I guess I’m living a dream.”
Mark was born and raised in Centerville and is married to Jana Belloma
Centerville residents Kurt Herr and Mark Kauzlarich also work at Musco Lighting.
According to www.musco.com, “Since 1976 Musco has focused on the design and manufacture of sports lighting systems, from hometown Little League fields to professional sports stadiums around the globe” offering permanent and temporary lighting needs.
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia/Abkhazia and Russia. It’s population in 2010 was 343,334.