Wisconsin Life: Turf Man

(bands playing music) – Welcome to game day
at Lambeau Field. There’s a sea of fans, a few bands, and tailgating
as far as the eye can see. But before any fans
come marching in, it’s game on for Allen Johnson. – I tell people all the time,
“I’m a farmer. “And I’m growing a crop. “It just happens to be
for a football team.” – Allen is the Green Bay Packers
field manager. He’s responsible for
one of the most iconic pieces of sports turf in America. – You think about what you do
is seen for three hours on TV by millions of people. So there’s a lot of pressure;
it’s best not to think about it. – There’s a lot
fans might not think about when it comes to this
homegrown Packers pasture. – [Allen] The big day
is the day before. Me and my crew are
painting the field and getting it ready. – The field crew
paints every letter, every NFL logo,
and every hash mark every week
the Packers play at home. Despite using
145 gallons of paint, their artwork doesn’t last long
on this canvas that stretches the length
of a football field. (sprayer whirring) It takes a five man crew an entire day
to repaint perfection, and each season that canvas is new. – Every spring on Lambeau Field
we actually kill off the grass and remove it
mechanically with a machine, and we have to grow that back in
from seed. If we let the grass get
too mature and too thick, it will be harder for those
cleats to break through that grass canopy and sink
in where the good footing is. – Another little known fact, Lambeau Field is based on
a synthetic and natural turf perfected overseas. – All the soccer in Europe, the soccer fields
in Premiere League are this type of system. They’re a high-performing field. We are the only field
with this type of system. Everything is dictated
by the weather. Because it’s sand, you gotta
pay attention to the water. We have another technology
that we utilize, and it really came in handy
when we expanded to the south part
of the stadium. They’re grow lights, and
we fold the arms out, and it helps extend
our growing season. We are unique in the sense that
we are a natural grass field probably
the northernmost in latitude. The devices you see out there, one measures the amount of light that we’re getting
down on the field. The other device measures
soil temperature, soil moisture, pretty much
everything else we need to know. – Weather also plays into
the legend and lore. – Our growing season’s
pretty short. It’s shorter than the rest, and obviously
more bitterly cold. (wind howling) – And the term “frozen tundra” is a bit of a misnomer
these days because the field
is actually heated. – [Allen] If you were
to take everything away, you’d see a maze of tubing. It’s just circulating
anti-freeze, and we can adjust the temperature
with this thermostat. – And about the rumor
that the Packers can change the field
temperature to favor the home team? – [Allen] Impossible to
change the temperature of the field that quick. It’s like the temperature
of Lake Michigan. It takes hours to
change that temperature. – Allen has weathered
many storms with the Packers, and it began with a Post-It note on a jobs board. – Literally,
a sticky note that said, “Temporary construction.” I had no idea what it was about. I quit my job the next day. – And despite
not having any experience, 19 seasons later,
that job on a Post-It note turned out pretty well
for Allen. – It’s a really, really good
fit for me and my personality. I love the freedom. The Packers give me
a lot of responsibility. It’s my job to make it good. It represents the team. It represents
the community of Green Bay. I’m fussing and fidgeting
over that crop to make it as
perfect as it can be. It’s just not, “Grow it, plant it, and forget
it, and whatever happens.” You always monkeying
with it all the time. It’s gotta be the best it can
all the time. – And ask this farmer what makes his grass prairie special, and he’ll give you
a green and gold answer. – Because it’s Packer turf,
that’s why it’s special. (crowd yelling and cheering)

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