The Role of Construction Equipment in Preparing for the Super Bowl
The 2023 Super Bowl has come and gone. The winning field goal kicked with 8 seconds left in the game, contestable holding calls, and Rihanna's pregnancy reveal left a lot for fans to take in. These events are now part of Super Bowl history thanks to enormous preparation from thousands of contributors.
From final decorative details to heavy-duty construction, building the Super Bowl from the ground up is a task we are somehow able to replicate seamlessly year after year. Have you ever wondered how it's done? Fortunately for you, we've got you covered:
What goes on behind the scenes?
After watching seamless transitions and impressive performances from the Chiefs, Eagles, and Rihanna, it's easy to forget the sheer scale and execution requirements of the Super Bowl. Decorating, media relations, stage construction, weather, audiovisual, and field prep are among many areas that make up our image of the Super Bowl. Each moving part is set up with the help of many types of reliable construction equipment.
Supporting Equipment Class 1: Boom Lifts
Tons of signage goes into making each year's Super Bowl stadium look like it's decorated that way year-round. Staff must remove existing décor from the stadium's home team to make space for Super Bowl-branded banners, signs, and art installations. The participating teams' logos are painted onto the field as the final piece that makes the stadium Super Bowl ready.
Straight and articulating boom lifts enable staff to redecorate at high elevations, including wrapping banners around beams, entrance archways, and suspended displays. These boom lifts are often electric and small, designed for indoor construction, and required to operate quietly and without emissions. Operating mostly on concrete and other hard surfaces, most boom and scissor lifts used in stadiums are wheeled.
Installing additional lighting and speakers is another major task for the Super Bowl groundskeeping and behind-the-scenes team. Boom lifts provide workers with access to high elevations, which come in handy for lighting and audio upgrades installed on scoreboards, display screens, and roof lighting. Depending on whether the stadium field is outdoors or indoors, these aerial lifts can be electric or diesel-powered.
Supporting Equipment Class 2: Scissor Lifts
Since scissor lifts are only used on smooth, finished surfaces like indoor floors or concrete, they're one of the most common pieces of construction equipment used for stadium outfitting. Reaching elevations of up to 46', they can handle refurbishing and construction work at the ceiling level where boom lifts can't fit because of their size. Fan galleries, booth rooms, and lounges were likely built with the help of scissor lifts.
State Farm Stadium, this year's Super Bowl Stadium, spent two years upgrading its Wi-Fi system for the event. This included installing 600 under-seat control boxes and 300 Marlin 9104 antennas in the rafters for greater connectivity. Construction lifts, concrete drills, and other equipment made such a large-scale project possible.
Supporting Equipment Class 3: Dump Trucks and Forklifts
Many displays, temporary booths, and fencing are set up from scratch. These all require trucks full of materials to build. That's where forklifts and dump trucks come in. To prep for the 54th Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in 2019, 30 trucks and 250 trailers were used for fencing, signage, material, and turf transportation. It took 150,000 square feet of turf to set up the field alone.
Cushion tire forklifts were the model of choice for Super Bowl preparations. Equipped with rubber tires, these non-marking forklifts work well indoors for lifting materials up to working height. Forklift pallets can also transport materials from one site to another, as their lift capacities range from 5,000-60,000 lbs.
When past Super Bowls were hosted in colder cities like Minneapolis, forklifts and door sealings froze during construction, throwing a new wrench into preparation efforts. Luckily, this wasn't an issue in Arizona this year, as temperatures reached the high seventies on game day!
Supporting Equipment Class 4: Rollers and Skid Steers
Preparation for a successful Super Bowl extends beyond stadium walls. The city of Glendale repaired and repaved six miles of surrounding roads with the help of rollers and other roadwork equipment. Greenery and signage directing spectators to the stadium were other upgrades made to the surrounding area. Skid steers helped city staff clear land and transport materials on site.
Building State Farm Stadium
This year's Super Bowl took place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. To prep for the game, State Farm Stadium underwent 150 million dollars in renovations and improvements which covered a brand new video board, new lounges, art pieces, and Wi-Fi system upgrades. In addition to these changes, the stadium has some cool features from a construction perspective.
Retractable Field and Roof
State Farm Stadium is one of two football stadiums with a 234' by 403' retractable field. The field operates by rolling on wheels that sit on sliding tracks. To operate the field, seventy-six 1 HP motors power the wheels, which contributes to a retraction time of 70 minutes.
The State Farm field is made from fully natural grass, which grows outside in the sun, then retracts inside when required. This is an incredible innovation but was a difficult adjustment for Chiefs and Eagles players throughout the game. Players slipped and struggled to gain traction on the natural grass field, prompting many players to change their cleats mid-game.
The other main retractable component in State Farm Stadium is its roof, which is the only one of its kind that retracts on an incline. Constructed with two roof panels, a 480 HP winch system is responsible for the retraction motion. The panels are covered with tensile fabric, a material that distributes tension along its surface. This creates paper-thin, transparent panes with incredible strength.
State Farm Stadium's retractable roof remained open for the Super Bowl, as February 12th in Arizona experienced perfect football weather.
Projector Wrap Display
The largest wrap completed by the NFL surrounded the entire State Farm Stadium. Totaling 50,000 square feet, the wrap includes 24 projectors displaying a sequence of graphics visible from nearby highways. This sequence includes snapshots of the desert landscape, Arizona landmarks, art, and Super Bowl content. The themes shown in this display resemble other gameday decorations found inside the stadium, proudly representing Arizona while delivering the Super Bowl experience.
New North End Zone Display
Installed before the start of the 2022 football season, a 3,663-square-foot display hangs in State Farm Stadium's north end Zone. The resolution surpasses the previous display with 3.1 million pixels and a 44% increase in size.
Daktronics, an audiovisual display company, is responsible for State Farm Stadium's newest addition. Their VP of Live Events had the following statement to share on the project:
“This upgrade will have State Farm Stadium prepared to host the largest football game of the year while also bringing an improved game-day experience to Arizona Cardinals fans all season long" - Jay Parker, VP of Live Events at Daktronics.
Constructing the Super Bowl Experience
The description of Sunday's events may be a little different between Chiefs and Eagles fans. Regardless of which team you support, the Super Bowl experience is engaging, impactful, and well-constructed.
None of this would be possible without the help of boom lifts, scissor lifts, and forklifts, along with dump trucks, rollers, and skid steers, and the thousands of people behind the scenes. State Farm Stadium's flashy features made the 57th Annual Super Bowl all the more memorable.