Almost everyone enjoys watching football in inclement weather and the atmosphere that it creates. Well, almost everyone. Snow during a game week is a nightmare for athletic field managers and facilities managers everywhere.
Folsom Field has a heating system in the soil profile which can be utilized in situations like this to prevent the field from freezing and causing unsafe playing conditions. Some may think that the system will actually melt the snow, but in reality it is at a depth of 8" and will not have any direct effect on field surface temperature. Allowing the field to melt naturally would have possibly jeopardized the firmness of the profile and could have provided a situation where players could get hurt because of soft footing. These concerns further enforced the decision to plow the field.
The goal Thursday was to remove the rest of the snow from the actual field in Folsom Stadium. This is a time consuming process. Unlike normal snow plowing there is a very deliberate method employed to not only protect the field itself, but preserve the aesthetic quality of the field. Sports turf managers not only strive to provide the best playing surface possible for the athletes, but also provide a product that has an appearance that they can be proud of. With this in mind the striping that you are accustomed to seeing on tv must be preserved so care is taken to remove the snow in the direction that we have been mowing the field to preserve that same pattern. There is a prior post on this blog that speaks about striping and the methods behind it.
In the picture below you can see that we use a small John Deere Gator with a blade that is designed specifically for sports fields. It has a rubber edge on it which allows it to slide along the field without tearing up the turf. The snow is brought to the edges of the field by traveling east and west where we use the tractor to push it up to the ramp coming out of the north end of the stadium. At that point skidsteers are utilized to load up the snow and remove it from the stadium completely.
Our BuffVision staff actually took video of the removal process as it happened. This is a great video to help illustrate how this process worked.
Events of this size alone take months of planning and many, many hours of preperation to pull off smoothly and safely. When Mother Nature makes plans to attend the event, it strains the entire campus to make sure everything goes off safely. It took a lot of work but the entire campus pulled together and the only thing that didn't go as planned was the game.