Soccer friendly puts Sun Life Stadium employees to work

11/17/2013 12:04 AM

11/17/2013 6:23 PM

The near-sellout crowd of 71,124 poured out of Sun Life Stadium at 9:30 p.m. after watching Brazil rout Honduras 5-0 in an exhibition Saturday night, and then the stadium’s operation crew kicked into full gear.

Over the next 18 hours, they would be required to transform the fútbol field back into an American football field for the Dolphins’ 4 p.m. Sunday game against San Diego. It is a job that requires a couple hundred people and a scripted, detailed plan.

Todd Boyan, the stadium senior vice president of operations, said: “We have this choreographed down to the minute. Everything has to happen in a certain order from the cleanup to the grounds to parking, food and beverage, and the scoreboard. We’ll have people here all night until sunrise.”

The field makeover actually began after last Saturday’s Miami-Virginia Tech football game. The field was resodded for the soccer match, which is why there were no football lines or Miami logos visible. Then, immediately after the Brazil-Honduras match, the field had to be transformed again.

The soccer benches and sideline equipment were removed, the LED signage around the field was removed, special vacuum cleaners canvassed the entire field to make sure all debris was removed. Soccer goals were removed and goal posts erected. Then, the 24-person grounds crew began the painstaking process of painting the field for the Dolphins game.

They had to cover the soccer lines with green paint. Then they had to stencil all the football lines, numbers, the Dolphins logo and the word “Miami” in each end zone. Then they paint everything. Once the painting is done, special blow dryers are brought out, and they were scheduled to keep running through Sunday afternoon.

Sun Life Stadium has four locker rooms, so Brazil and Honduras did not occupy the locker rooms that will be used Sunday by the Dolphins and Chargers.

“That helps a lot, the fact that we don’t have to turn over the locker rooms, too,” Boyan said. “Our crew is a veteran crew that is used to doing these conversions. They’ve done Marlins to UM to Dolphins. It’s a huge task, and some people are working through the night and then all the way through the Dolphins game. It really is a team effort.”

• Four Brazil players who surely took Saturday’s game seriously were Victor, Maicon, Bernard and Maxwell. All four were in the starting lineup and eager to catch the eye of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari heading into the World Cup.

Maxwell started at left-back because Real Madrid defender Marcelo was dropped from the squad following a knee injury. Maicon, the 32-year-old veteran stopper, started in back after Dani Alves sustained a calf strain at practice Thursday. Maicon had strong practices all week and Saturday scored Brazil’s third goal.

Forward Bernard stands only 5-4, which cost him some jobs early in his career. But the 21-year-old impressed Brazil coaches all week, and he started in place of Hulk. Bernard, who plays in Ukraine for Shakhtar Donetsk, took advantage of the opportunity and scored Brazil’s only first-half goal.

Scolari also chose to use Victor in goal instead of Julio Cesar.

• Two of the youngest Brazilian players — Marquinhos and Willian — reportedly went through some good-natured rookie hazing last week at the team’s downtown hotel. They were required to sing, tell jokes and give speeches to entertain the veteran players during dinner.

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