Periscope: Preparing Pat Dye Field for Football

Good morning from Jordan-Hare Stadium on sort
of a blustery fall Wednesday. Auburn and Ole Miss this weekend, a big SEC matchup. It’s
actually Stripe the Stadium this Saturday. Before we stripe the stadium, we have to stripe
the field. No one knows how to do that better than the university’s athletic turf grass
manage Eric Kleypas. Eric, talk about, we don’t see a lot of
the behind the scenes stuff. We turn the game on on a Saturday or we are here at the ballgame.
We don’t see all of this. Tell us what’s going on and how much effort you guys have
to put in to make this work. Sure, so field prep kind of starts immediately
after the last football game. Right after the game you’ll see us come out, we’ll
mow with buckets on, collect clippings, we’re rolling the field back smooth, mowing, getting
the debris up and getting everything ready. We’re trying to speed that recovery process
for the next week. The sooner we get out and start the healing process, the better. So
we’re going to mow, we’re going to pick up trash and as soon as TV gets out of the
way, we’re going to turn on irrigation to start the healing process. Then as we get
into the next game week, we’re going to start by painting our lines. Our lines dictate
where all the logos go, numbers, hash marks. We’ll paint the lines on either Monday or
Tuesday and then put our stencils out for the logos. Now our stencils are just huge
sheets of plastic with little holes in them. So we’ll lay those sheets of plastic out
and paint with aerosol cans the little holes and when you remove it up, you see this. You
get the “connect the dots” finished product. So from there, we’ll start painting. We’ll
do two coats of paint on all our logos and borders just to keep them good and vibrant.
We’re going to mow throughout the week. Now some people, once they start painting
will stop mowing for the week. We want a fast field so we do it a little bit differently.
We’ll mow in between paints just to keep the grass tight and have a fast field for
Saturday. How much does weather come into play this
week? We had some rain early. Does that affect you guys at all or how does that work?
Sure it just adapts your plan. It depends on when you start painting, when we’re going
to put out our fertilizer, when we’re mowing, so you kind of have to adjust everything you
know. Wet paint doesn’t dry if it’s raining, it doesn’t dry if it’s overcast. So we’re
going to factor in the weather and also shade from something like our new scoreboard in
the south end zone to dictate what time of day we paint so that it’ll dry before the
next painting or before we mow. How many gallons of paint will you use to
prep the game week to week? We average about 250 gallons of orange, blue
and white paint. It’s a lot of paint. It comes in five gallon buckets, a concentrated
goop almost and then we blend it with water to the consistency we want for each color.
Now you’re an Auburn graduate and you’re the one in charge of these fields. What’s
that like being back here at your alma mater and taking care of this?
It’s just fun. You know, as you’re in school and you see the stadium over here it’s
kind of in the back of your head “If I’m going to grow grass for a living this is where
I want to do it.” So it’s an honor to graduate from Auburn and then get to stay
in Auburn maintaining the athletic fields. And it’s not just Jordan-Hare Stadium and
Pat Dye Field, it’s the whole gamut of fields. Talk about that and the responsibility of
taking care of all those. It’s sometimes a juggling act because today
we’re painting the stadium, we’re getting ready for softball practice, for baseball
practice, for soccer practice so we have guys kind of moving around like musical chairs
making sure everything gets done each day. What’s the biggest challenge of doing what
you’re doing out here at the football stadium? Probably weather. Everything is weather dependent.
Well it always looks good on Saturdays on television. We appreciate all you do and War
Eagle. War Eagle.

About the Author: Garret Beatty

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