The eyes of the world were on Palmetto Wednesday evening.
Or at least several thousand pairs of eyes.
Feld Entertainment hosted an event at its world headquarters to introduce the 2017 Monster Jam season, which includes some new trucks, some new drivers and new scoring systems.
The event was streamed live on Facebook, and Feld officials said people from countries around the world had logged in to watch, many offering thumbs-up and hearts and other emoticons of enthusiasm. The numbers of people watching ebbed and flowed through the evening, but at one point about 4,000 were interacting with the event.
In the audience, about 300 people — Feld employees, their families and a few invited guests — listened to a list of cities where various Monster Jam trucks would travel in 2017. Some of the best-known trucks, including Dalmatian and Zombie, were ion display, and a few drivers stepped up on stage during the evening to talk about how thrilled they were to be Monster Jam drivers.
Over on the sides of the audience, Feld employees periodically held up hand-lettered sings that said “LOUDER” to urge the audience to respond enthusiastically.
On stage, a male and female co-host, after about a quarter-hour of technical delays, announced the dates that various Monster Jam tours would start in different areas of the country.
The two dates that really matter to local Monster Jam fans are Jan. 14 and Feb. 4, when Monster Jam will come to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. Among the trucks in the Tampa events will be Grave Digger, El Toro Loco, Scooby-Doo, Mad Scientist and Big Kahuna.
The only bad news imparted during the event was the announcement that this will be the last season for Madusa, a professional wrestler-turned-monster truck driver. She has been one of the most popular and successful women drivers on the Monster Jam tours, driving her eponymous truck, and (according to a video presentation shown to the Facebook audience) she has helped inspire an increasing number of women to enter the sport. This year, every Monster Jam event will features at least one female driver.
Monster Jam events consist of two competitions: a race and a freestyle competition in which trucks bounce, jump, turn circles, perform wheelies and even do backflips, with each driver trying to outdo the other. Courses for 2017 have been designed to make the races more challenging and the freestyling more spectacular.
Every few minutes during the event, the onstage hosts urged Facebook viewers to become Monster Jam preferred customers. Preferred customers get to buy tickets two weeks earlier than other people, starting on Sept. 13 instead of Sept. 27. It doesn’t cost anything to become a preferred customer. Fans can register by going to monsterjam.com, clicking on “newsletter” and filling out a form.
The two dates that really matter to local Monster Jam fans are Jan. 14 and Feb. 4, when Monster Jam will come to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. Among the trucks in the Tampa events will be Grave Digger, El Toro Loco, Scooby Doo, Mad Scientist, Big Kahuna.