Early April is primetime in the sporting world with one high-profile event after another. April means Opening Day for Major League Baseball, the end of the college basketball season with the Final Four and the first of the PGA’s major championships, the Masters. And none of it would be possible without the behind-the-scenes field service technicians who prep the stadiums and build the grandstands. Here’s a look at how service techs keep the sports world spinning on the diamond, links and hardwood:
Opening Day Preparations at Target Field
The calendar might read spring, but that doesn’t mean Mother Nature got the memo. It’s been one of the snowiest, coldest winters on record in the upper Midwest — and that can cause problems for early spring baseball. That’s especially true in Minneapolis, which opened its fifth season of outdoor baseball earlier this week at Target Field.
Head groundskeeper Larry DiVito spoke with Twin Cities media about his crew’s three-phase preparation for Opening Day. It started in mid-March when crews using shovels and snow blowers removed up to two feet of snow from the field tarp and blasted ice-bound seats with 120-degree water from hoses. They then heated the playing field to nearly 60 degrees to spring the grass to life. Last weekend, DiVito and his staff tended to the last-minute details, such grating the outfield, to make the field ready for the big leagues. But with snow and sleet in the forecast, they’re not in the clear yet. Follow along on Twitter @TCGroundsCrew.
Read more at KFAN
Transforming an NFL Stadium into a Final Four Arena
The Final Four tips off Saturday, April 5 at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. What does it take to turn an NFL stadium into an 80,000-seat basketball arena? A lot of planning, for starters. And then there’s the hard work. A 60-person crew removed about 9,500 permanent seats to install 16,500 temporary seats. All told, the adjustments took about 11 days and required 50 semi-trailer loads to haul the temporary seating.
Workers also assembled the court and elevated it almost three feet off of the field so spectators can see the action. “You essentially build an arena inside the stadium,” John Turner, a vice president with the Colonnade Group, which installed the seats, told The Dallas Morning News.
Read more at The Dallas Morning News
All-Hands Call at Augusta National
Augusta National is among the most prestigious golf courses in the world, and it hosts one of the sport’s most renowned tournaments, the Masters. A lot of work goes into making the course as beautiful as it appears on TV. A lot of work. The week before the tournament, which begins on April 10, hundreds of superintendents volunteer to get the course ready, according to FlyingBlue Golf. Groundskeepers plant trees and flowers by hand, rake the sand traps and dye the water hazards a deep blue. A phalanx of 12 mowers trims the fairways twice daily, and the crew also cuts and hand rolls the greens twice per day.
All the work is to ensure it’s perfect for players, spectators and the TV audience. But something will be different this year. An ice storm in February damaged the Eisenhower Tree on the 17th hole, forcing techs to chop down the iconic, century-old pine.
Tech Moves from Grounds Crew to Lineup
It’s not every day that technicians make the leap from fixing equipment to using it on the job. But that’s (sort of) what happened to Jacob Smith, a former grounds crew employee for the Augusta GreenJackets in Augusta, Ga., who made this year’s roster as a pitcher. The GreenJackets are a Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
“I worked on the grounds crew so I had to come up from the bottom and have to keep that steady work ethic,” Smith tells WRDW-TV. “Can’t let anything get you up or down, too high or too low.”
Read more at WRDW-TV