Luke Kellerman, assistant turf manager with the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, has plenty of experience in preparing for and managing non-sporting events.
“At Sports Authority Field, we hold many non-sporting events,” Kellerman says. “From corporate events, high school dances, birthday parties and weddings, each type of event has its own challenges — but most can be simplified with an emphasis on communication.”
Sports Authority Field has an events department that handles all of the scheduling details for special events. “[The ground staff ’s] communication with the individuals in this department makes all the difference when it comes to protecting the field,” Kellerman explains.
“We hold a meeting every week in which various departments, along with the events department, go over the past week’s events as well as upcoming events in order to make them run as smoothly as possible. This hour-long meeting not only ensures that the event will run smoothly, but also that, as a turf department, we have the ability to voice our concerns in order to protect the turf to the best of our abilities. This constant communication with those in the event department has allowed us to maintain the high-quality field that the Denver Broncos have come to expect.”
Here’s a few more tips Kellerman provided for fellow athletic field managers to successfully navigate through and recover from non-sporting events:
1. Compile Data
“We keep track of every event that comes out onto the field. This dates back to 2004, which is as far back as our event records go. We log the event by several different categories: how many people attended, where on the field the event was located, how many hours the event lasted, as well as how many hours we were restricted from watering the field. We use this information in a variety of different ways, but most importantly to draw direct correlations to the condition of the field and any issues that might arise in the overall quality of the field.”
2. Minimize the Data
“We allow only the minimal parts of the field to be used for non-sporting events. For most of the smaller events, we use a combination of rope line and bike barricade to keep the clients on the field service track and on the turf outside of the boundary line. There are events that will take place on the grass, but in these cases we give clients areas that are located outside of the actual playing field. We do this so that if there’s any damage to the turf, the locations in question will not impact the safety or playability of the field.”
3. Protect the Turf
“We are lucky enough to own a full Terraplas flooring system that covers our entire field. We use this system quite a lot when it comes to protecting the field. For example, when you have 9,000 people on the field for a concert, that extra level of protection makes all the difference when it comes to compaction and recovery of the turf.”
4. Know Your Staff
“It’s also important to know which events are important enough to be staffed by a member of the turf department. With the amount of events that we have at our stadium, there’s no way that one of us can be around for each of them. So we’ve learned to prioritize which events necessitate us to staff. These events are usually the ones that have a large footprint on the field, or the ones that have larger attendance. The line between professional and personal life is very important to me, and that’s why we have to be very conscious in which events we plan to staff — our year is a marathon, not a sprint, starting with special event/Denver Outlaws (MLS) season and ending with the Denver Broncos season.”
Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado, as it appeared during the final day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
PHOTOS: MATRAX, INC, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS