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Field Painting for the Super Bowl

Friday, February 3, 2017

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Painting crews play a key role when it comes to the big game.

While the New England Patriots will soon become the team with the most Super Bowl appearances ever (nine), they can’t hold a candle to another participant in this year’s big game, who will be working his 51st Super Bowl: George Toma, who has worked with the painting crew every year since 1967.

Toma, 88, is largely retired at this point, but according to the Houston Chronicle, he still consults with the NFL, and oversees field painting for the Super Bowl. This year’s game will be held at NRG Stadium, with a new artificial turf surface manufactured by TurfNation.

According to the Chronicle, Toma’s innovations this year include the introduction of laser guides to help ensure straight lines, and splash guards to help minimize problems during application.

All-Star Team

Toma oversees something of an “all-star” crew of field workers from all over the league, presumably to keep the NFL season from ending the way this season began in August, with a coating catastrophe. For the past 22 years, that Super Bowl grounds team has also included Peter Wozniak, whose day job is at Arizona State University.

Super Bowl 48 field
MichelinStar, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Super Bowl painting team must create logos on the field, which usually includes the NFL logo in the center, and the Super Bowl logo for the year on either side of it. (Pictured: Super Bowl XLVIII, between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.)

As ASU Now, a university publication, reports, Wozniak got his start as a Super Bowl painter in 1996, when the big game was played at Sun Devil Stadium, in Tempe, then the home of the Arizona Cardinals. Wozniak, the ASU athletic facilities maintenance manager, worked on the field markings for Super Bowl 30 that year, and has been invited back every year since.

More Than Straight Lines

Painting the field for such a prestigious event involves more than just getting the white yard lines straight, of course. Beyond the end zones and hash marks, Wozniak and the Super Bowl painting team must create logos on the field, which usually includes the NFL logo in the center, and the Super Bowl logo for the year on either side of it.

The job also involves painting practice fields and other satellite sites around the venue each year.

With all the new technology, the job might be cleaner than ever, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still take skill.

“It requires a steady hand and patience,” says Wozniak. “You can’t be rushed when you do it.”

 

   

Tagged categories: Color + Design; Paint application; Painters; Stadiums/Sports Facilities; Striping; Workers

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