November 16, 2006
On six Saturdays a year, 62,000 screaming fans pour into Scott Stadium. So what does it take to get a stadium ready for that many people?
"It's challenging but it's exciting," said Associate Director of Athletics Jason Bauman.
Getting from an empty stadium to screaming fans takes not only time, but manpower. Preparing for game day is a week long process that begins on the field.
It's now 68 hours until kickoff and already the preparations here at Scott Stadium have begun. Crews are putting the final touches on the paint and the emblems all in preparation for the teams to take the field.
"Fans that come in on Saturday don't really know all the work that has gone into it," said Turf Manager Jesse Pritchard.
Pritchard is the man in charge of the field. His staff of five begin on Monday's by mowing and fertilizing Scott Stadium's playing surface. Wednesday, paint is the name of the game. It takes between 40 and 60 hours to paint each line, insignia and logo that dons the field. Friday and Saturday provide time for finishing touches making this one of the finest fields in all of the country.
"I love coming in on Saturday morning and seeing an empty stands and knowing that soon 60,000 people will be here to watch a game and we prepared all week and have done everything we can to prepare a safe and beautiful playing surface," Pritchard said.
"We want them to have a great time while they are here. We want them to experience high customer service," Bauman said.
The field is not the only thing that needs preparing. Between games, it takes a staff of 25 to 30 to clean the facility, fix any problems, and prepare the gates. An then of course there is the food.
It's now 24 hours before kickoff and food concessions is the focus. All of the soda and water is on ice as the food preparation gears up.
"It takes 15 people 4 days to get ready," said Ed Whedbee, Director of Operations for Aramark.
Workers begin game week on Tuesday, moving palates of soda and water to prepare each stand. Each game, vendors sell 15,000 bottles along with another 15,000 fountain drinks. But that is just the beginning.
"(We'll go through) seven thousand hot dogs. We'll go through 7,000 to 8,000 wings, about 400 pounds of barbecue, 3,000 pretzels, and about 2,500 bags of popcorn," Whedbee said.
Game days start about 6 hours before kickoff with nearly 500 people dedicated to food service alone. Whedbee says it is a long process, but one that never gets old.
"It is always changing and that is really why we love to come to work. It never gets boring, that's for sure," he said.
In the end, the hundreds of workers all shoot for one goal.
"We strive for perfection and we probably never get there, but we need to coordinate a number of details to make the experience positive," Bauman said.
UVa hosts Miami in the last home game of the season Saturday at noon.