Xtreme Turfing

After an estimated 90,000 fans at the inaugural Mile High Music Festival July 19-20 danced their hearts out on the soccer fields adjacent to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to acts including Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty and John Mayer, the turf was in serious need of repair.

Plenty of festivals have crews that clean the grounds through the night but this was a special case. The turf crew at the Commerce City, Colo., site had a challenge on their hands because a little more than two weeks after the festival, DSG Park was hosting the Colorado Rush Open soccer tournament.

DSG Park turf manager Bret Baird told Pollstar the festival used 18 of the 24 fields surrounding the stadium.

“So basically, what the crowd did was just trample the grass. And trampled it and trampled it. One of the main reasons that the trampling was so hard on the grass was because it was basically 100 degrees every day,” Baird said.
The venue was forced to turn off the water five days before the event as well as the two days of the fest, which also affected the turf, he added.

The three days after the festival were spent getting everything off the fields, from tents to stairs to bleachers.

The following four days, July 24-27, Baird and his crew of 12 got to work.

“The first thing we did was clean up trash. There was so much of it,” Baird said. “The main thing was cigarette butts and the plastic cups that broke into a 100 pieces.”

The crew then used a 6-foot magnet to collect metal and debris left over on the fields.

“There’s a lot of metal you don’t actually see but it’s down there. I don’t know where the hell it came from but we had hundreds upon hundreds of bobby pins,” Baird said. “And I don’t know how the heck guitar strings make it from the stage way out into the crowd but we probably found at least a half dozen.”

And Baird’s team picked up all this garbage after another cleaning crew had already combed through the fields.

“I can’t even imagine the stuff they found,” he said. “Probably a lot of bottles with yellow liquid in them. Guys being lazy.”

Next the team aerated the fields, seeded them, top-dressed and fertilized them.

“We just spread a really thin layer of sand on top of the ground to help cover up that seed and then we fertilized the heck out of it.”

All that remained was to wait for the fertilizer to work and the seed to germinate.

Baird said some of the crew brought food, sleeping bags and pillows and slept at the offices rather than make the commute home since they had to be back at work just hours after they were done for the night.

“I know it sounds quick and easy,” Baird said. “That was a very long, labor-intensive four days. … In a perfect world we would have had six weeks to get it ready for the next tournament.

“We’ve never had an event of this magnitude,” Baird added. “We do a renovation like this in the spring and in the fall, but we’ve never had to do it as aggressively as we did this time nor did we ever have the time constraints we had after this [festival].”

The crew spent up until the tournament repairing the surrounding landscape and parking lots.

The tent stakes left about 1,300 holes in the parking lot and those had to be sealed and repaired to avoid potholes.