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From ASU to the Super Bowl: Sun Devil field designer works grounds crew for Falcons-Patriot game

NFL turns to ASU athletics facility maintenance manager for help with Super Bowl stadium

asu super bowl field painter

"The ASU athletics facility maintenance manager prepares for the Super Bowl" Illustration published Monday Jan. 30, 2017.  

Crisp, yellow paint curves to a point to make one spear of the team's signature pitchfork right on the 50-yard-line. The maroon outline sprays onto the grass and his sneaker and up his leg. Six hours later, the Sun Devil Stadium's paint is ready for game night.

Peter Wozniak, the ASU athletics facility maintenance manager, is one of the reasons why ASU’s stadiums and arenas are ready for team practice and events. Now, he’s getting Houston ready for Super Bowl 51.

Wozniak started working for the NFL grounds crew for Super Bowl 30 in 1996 because the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers happened right in Sun Devil Stadium. Wozniak has worked every Super Bowl since.

“This is a job where you can see your results almost instantaneously when we paint the field or get the field ready,” Wozniak said.

Pete Wozniak - Field painter for ASU and the NFL from ASU Now on Vimeo.

Some of his other experiences include the Fiesta Bowl field when it was in Glendale, and the Insight Bowl which is now the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.

“I think there were six national championships apart from the Fiesta Bowls,” Wozniak said. “Some of those were in Sun Devil Stadium.”

Wozniak has also done the NFL games in Mexico, Japan, Australia and England.

“It’s cool to see other countries I probably wouldn’t have seen because of doing this with the NFL,” Wozniak said. “The little free time I had (in those countries) is more free time than I would have had to do these things.”

Wozniak saw a variety of different sights from the Sydney Olympic stadium to fish market auctions and baseball games in Japan. He climbed the pyramids in Mexico.

Wozniak visited Westminster, Buckingham palace and Wimbledon while in London.

He said he enjoyed travelling around the country as well, listing Miami, New Orleans and Houston as some of his favorites.

“They all stand out because they’re all unique and various,” Wozniak said. “It’s hard to pinpoint one that you just like because we don’t have the time to explore the cities.”

He said for him and the crew, it’s all about convenience and good weather.

A few years ago, Wozniak prepared for Super Bowl 48 with snow on the ground in New Jersey. The crew put heated tents down to cover the end zones and where the logos were supposed to go.

“We might have had to push our equipment through the snow to get to them,” Wozniak said. “We did have the transportation to and from the stadium and practice fields which were outside. That was good.”

While Wozniak does most of his work in Arizona where the weather is less severe, Wozniak is a New Yorker, and he said it was good to get back in the area.

In 2010, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl were both played in Miami Gardens.

Wozniak and his crew had to prepare for the Pro Bowl then once the game was completed they had get rid of everything to start preparing for the Super Bowl's media day two days later. 

"We just had Monday to get the end zones removes, new infills put in and have them repainted," Wozniak said. "We had like five inches of rain at the same time. We didn't stop."

He left for Houston on Jan. 20 to prepare for Super Bowl 51.

Wozniak said right now the first coat of paint is complete, and the crew is focused on the half time performance. He said they are also fertilizing and painting the practice fields for the Falcons and the Patriots. Friday and Saturday, the crew will do a final coat of everything.

Last time Wozniak visited Houston, the stadium had real grass inside.

“That was a big challenge, keeping the grass green and alive for a long period of time with everything leading up to the game,” Wozniak said. “This time it is artificial surface.”

Wozniak watched security increase in New Orleans at Super Bowl 36 in 2002 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He said the armed National Guard was everywhere. F-16s flew through the air above, and the perimeters were set up farther away from the stadium.

“It was a big change for everybody with access and everything and procedure,” Wozniak said. “Bag checks all started, kind of like how everything started at the airports as well.”

Wozniak said painting isn’t his only job. He also does the things no one sees. For example, he makes sure the cleaning crews do their jobs and works in the dirt of in-fields.

“Those are things you don’t talk about,” Wozniak said. “But this (painting in the field) is such a visible, high-profile thing that we do. It gets the most attention.”

Duy Nguyen, a freshman in social work, said he thinks it’s awesome that someone from ASU is working at the Super Bowl.

“Not only is that a great achievement for him, but it shows others at ASU what they are capable of doing,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen also said the paint on the field of Sun Devil Stadium is not just paint.

“ASU’s logo contributes to school spirit because it’s a symbol that us students share together,” Nguyen said. “To me, it represents growth, meaning that everyone of us is here to improve our life.”

Robert Spindler, ASU's archivist, said he thinks the painting of the pitchfork is a fairly recent thing.

"We didn't really feature that (the pitchfork) as a logo or a symbol until we had the Sparky redesign," Spindler said. 

According to Peter Wozniak, the pitchfork appeared on the field in 2011.

Peter Wozniak said working on Super Bowls is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he didn’t necessarily expect it either. 

“It’s great to represent ASU and be a part of it, and we don’t take it for granted.” Wozniak said. “Hopefully, we keep coming back and doing them.”

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