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.
It may be a surprise to some just how far we’ve come in how the Super Bowl playing field is managed.
For Super Bowl IV, played in 1970 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, crews had to spread wood chips and sawdust across the field and paint it green to make it look presentable.
For Super Bowl I, played in 1967 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in California, paint borrowed from an ice rink was used for the team names and logos in the end zones.
Those solutions were certainly crafty and resourceful, but they won’t be necessary on February 1, when Super Bowl XLIX is held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
State-of-the-art equipment, technology and lots of exact science are now the primary vehicles for preparing and maintaining the Super Bowl playing surface, whether it’s natural grass, artificial turf, or the unique playing field University of Phoenix Stadium boasts: 19 million pounds of soil, sand, water and Tifway 419 bermudagrass in a movable barge that rests on 546 steel wheels.
This surface, one-of-a-kind in North America, rolls in and out of the stadium before and after games. It remains outside the stadium until game day, which allows it to get the maximum amount of sun and nourishment while also eliminating humidity problems inside the stadium.
According to Evergreen Turf, the company that maintains the field, this turf technology combines a soil and sand base with synthetic fibers that help the grass roots bind tightly together. Water is applied under the sod so the roots grow deeper into the sand. The field is typically cut to a height of 0.5 inch.
After the NFL season, the old turf will be removed and new sod will have been replanted twice, once before college football’s Fiesta Bowl and again before the Super Bowl.
It’s safe to assume folks prepping the field for Super Bowl I back in 1967 would have ever imagined any setup quite like this.