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Exploring the pros and cons of taping Ninja Warrior indoors

We think through some various aspects of the Tacoma Dome location.

The Tacoma Dome/Facebook

With Baltimore in the bag, American Ninja Warrior has its sights set on Seattle/Tacoma next. The course is probably already on the way the there, and the crew will be hitting the ground next week. The Ninjas and audience will be in place for the tapings on May 11 and 12.

While the set up of American Ninja Warrior is a routine the crew has down pat at this point, this location brings something very new with it. For the first time in the show’s history, we’ll be taping indoors at the Tacoma Dome, and we’ll be taping during the daylight hours.

The location is an interesting new element to add to the recipe of Ninja Warrior. The show has worked on perfecting its formula for an outdoor set up since the very start of the program. Moving indoors brings a few new things to consider.

The space does look MORE than adequate to accommodate the course, crew, audience, and Ninjas.

It seems like a fairly flexible space as well. We’re intrigued to see how the creative minds behind the staging and lighting of Ninja Warrior will transform it.

We do think there are a few pros and cons of the location. What we’ll need to wait and see is how each one plays out during the taping.


  • Removing weather as a factor

Everyone, from the crew to the competitors, is excited about this aspect. With a roof over our heads, we don’t need to obsess over our weather apps. This season hasn’t been the kindest when it comes to Mother Nature. We’ll all get a little break from shivering and grabbing our rain gear in Tacoma. We’re also betting it leads to a higher level of energy from everyone, including the Ninjas and the audience members who’ve come out to cheer them on.

  • No more fear of the sun

American Ninja Warrior tapes overnight. No one seems to really believe us when we say that, but it’s true. We start when the sun goes down (usually between 8 and 9pm) and we go until usually around 6am. Just like vampires, we all gasp in panic when we see the glow of daylight creeping over the horizon. It means time is running out to get all the Ninjas on the course. Walk-on contestants especially know what daylight means. It means their hopes of getting on the course are dwindling.

But in Tacoma, it’s a whole new game. Recording in the dome means we’ll be controlling ALL aspects of the lighting. And we’re going to tape during the day! Again, we think this means the energy level will stay steady from all parties involved. There won’t be the 3am lull when everyone is in desperate need of coffee. For the athletes, that means their bodies won’t be confused about what time it is, perhaps giving us stronger performances.


  • No skyline or local elements behind the course

Over the years, Ninja Warrior has had some pretty stunning backdrops. Monument Circle in Indianapolis, US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the Las Vegas Strip during the National Finals. These little visual cues remind us what part of the country is represented on the course. They give Ninja Warrior a “home” for the night and create some local pride and flavor.

The team behind American Ninja Warrior’s look is an incredibly talented bunch, so we highly doubt they’re going to just plop the course in the middle of barren stadium and move on with their day. However, we are wondering if taping indoors will affect the ambiance that the outdoor locations have provided. This is one we’ll just have to wait and see on.

  • Is there such a thing as too much control?

In many of the cities, sometimes a little magic happens just because we’re out and about, acting as part of the community. Sometimes it’s fans that just stumble upon the course and provide some of the best cheering because they can see the competitors without being in the bleachers. It’s hills dotted with families who’ve set up blankets and picnics to watch from afar. Or it’s a local cafe who figures the crew must be hungry and brings over pizza or coffee in the middle of the night. There’s just some local hospitality that happens when we’re smack in the middle of the action.

That’s something that definitely can’t be replicated inside the Tacoma Dome. However, will it really have an affect on the overall product of the show?

We’re just about a week away from seeing this new setting come together and come alive in Washington. Do you think there are any other pros or cons that we missed? What are your thoughts on taping indoors? Let us know in the comments!