For those in the athletic field management industry, the Super Bowl is more than a game. In the days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, we examine what it takes to get the field in top-notch condition for the big game.
No matter how much science, technology and new-fangled equipment are used to prepare a field for the Super Bowl, one element never changes.
It takes people with the knowledge and skills to get the job done.
For Super Bowl XLVII, played in 2013 between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, one of those people was Kevin Hansen, a student at Iowa State University.
In 2012, Hansen was the winner of Toro’s Super Bowl Sports Turf Training Program, an annual contest for college students that are enrolled in the second year of a two-year turf program or the third year of a four-year program. The winner gets to spend a week helping to prepare the game and practice fields for the Super Bowl.
As part of the Super Bowl grounds crew in New Orleans, Hansen worked alongside George Toma, NFL Field Director Ed Mangan and other notable industry names. Hansen was part of the crew that worked on turf maintenance, field logo and hash mark painting, media day field preparation, halftime preparation and cleanup. He also helped maintain two practice fields.
The goal is to develop the perfect surface for player safety that will also withstand the wear and tear of pregame, halftime and postgame shows. During final prep, groundskeepers get on their hands and knees to check every inch and hand brush the turf to protect the logos from heavy equipment.
“It was a pretty cool experience for me, the Super Bowl being the biggest stage,” Hansen, now a graduate student at Iowa State, recalled.
“I did an internship with the [Green Bay] Packers the summer before that, so I had a little experience with the NFL,” Hansen said. “But nothing compares to the Super Bowl. There’s a million things going on at once. The crew consisted of [about] 25 people from all around. A lot of university guys, a lot of Major League Baseball guys, and a lot of NFL guys. To network with these guys, to see how they do things … you learn a lot.”