For Jeff Davis, associate athletics director for operations and facilities management at the University of South Carolina, Thursday’s season-opening football game is the culmination of more than a week of work prepping the stadium. Some jobs, like making sure the field is ready, are obvious; others, not so much. “When a bulb goes out in one of the huge light towers, somebody needs to go up onto the catwalk and change it by hand,” he says. “That’s one job I’m glad I don’t have to handle.”
Once the game kicks off at 6 p.m., more than 2,000 employees – janitors, concessioners, police officers and others – keep things running smoothly for the approximately 85,000 fans who pass through the turnstiles.
After the game, it takes three or four days to put it all back together. The process begins with a sweep for recyclable plastic and lost items. “They’ll pick up about 5.89 tons of recyclables after each game, as well as sunglasses, cellphones and other valuables,” says Davis.
Another team is deployed to the locker rooms, where Davis reports that visiting teams are remarkably respectful of the space. The next day, Navy ROTC members perform the primary cleanup of the stadium and parking lots, picking up another 21 tons of trash in the process. Finally, the entire stadium is, literally, washed down with what Davis says looks like a giant fire hose. “Our goal is to make it look like there was never a game,” he says.
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If you arrive at the game early, don’t be surprised if you see Davis taking a pre-game peek. “We spend so much time getting the stadium prepared, I like to take a minute to look at the final result.”
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Katie McElveen, Special to The State