Hamburg native Steve Sansonese is the field and sites ground manager at MetLife Stadium, site of today’s Super Bowl XLVIII. As such, the 27-year-old will be on the field today, assisting to make sure the playing surface is ready for the biggest sporting event in the world. Here’s a look at what Sansonese’s job is like.
Question: What’s the best-case and worst-case scenarios for today?
Answer: “The best-case scenario is good weather the whole time. The worst-case scenario is snow. Your life’s terrible if it snows. We had 14 inches last Tuesday night, and it took us two days to clear out the whole stadium. It’s just a lot to get snow out of that building, but I don’t really think there is a worst-case scenario, because if there is adversity, there’s so many experienced people with the NFL, that we know how to handle it. We’re having daily meetings about the possibility of snow removal, but the forecast is looking good.”
Q: How will you spend today?
A: “This is my first Super Bowl. I’ll be working with the grounds crew. If there is any precipitation, we’ll be removing that. Then we’ll set up the pylons and numbers. The field will probably also be groomed in the morning. That’s when we take a tractor with a brush and magnet on the back. It smoothes out the infill and allows you to have a level playing surface. If it’s compact, it kind of breaks it up to get more traction when players step down. The magnet picks up any metal or anything that would be on the field that would be harmful.”
Q: What’s your role during the regular season?
A: “My title is field and sites ground manager. My responsibilities are primarily to the Jets and the Giants. I am their person for basically all game-day operations on the field. The most important thing I do is make sure the field is playable — that it’s safe for the players. Then, aesthetically and operationally that it works for the teams. Being the only stadium where we have two teams, we have changeover on a weekly basis from the Giants to the Jets. The biggest thing that I do during the season is the end zone system changeover. … I work with a crew of seven for that to happen. Then we also have different responsibilities, such as the stadium wall wrap that we take off and put up for the Giants and the Jets in the bowl. Anything in the bowl, I’m in charge of, so everything else that comes along with that, heated benches, anything football related.”
Q: What’s your ultimate career goal?
A: “I’m the youngest field manager in the NFL. I go to the conference every March, and they always comment on how young I am. A bunch of them are up here for the Super Bowl. It’s really neat. The contacts you meet are awesome. My goal professionally is to keep moving up administratively. Maybe being a vice president of a stadium operations crew one day. Or going back to college and being an associate athletic director of operations. Leading an operations department at a collegiate or professional level.”
— Jay Skurski