Friday, February 10, 2012

My behind-the-scenes Super Bowl Experience.

Indy Super Bowl! 
When Indianapolis first found out the Super Bowl would be held here in 2012, I signed up as a volunteer. I'm not a big football fan, but everyone knows that the Super Bowl is a big deal. I wanted to be a part of it.

My fiance and I both signed up as volunteers with the Indiana Sports Corporation. Since we wanted to be ready to snag the best Super Bowl jobs, we also signed up for the NCAA Final Four so we'd know the ropes of volunteering before the BIG event.

Several months ago, we got the most important email: the call to register for positions! Matt and I immediately got on the website to find the amazing volunteer jobs we would get that would place us inside the stadium on game day!!

Except, there were no game day positions inside the stadium. There were no shuttle driver positions that would allow us to pick celebrities up from the airport like there were at the Final Four. There were just a few jobs, mainly working outside in Indiana in February doing crowd control or as a mobile information desk, or inside the Convention Center at the NFL Experience.  NFL Experience it was!
My Super Outfit

Volunteering was cool.  We had fancy credentials, Super Bowl coats and shirts and SUPER Scarves! We got to get in for free. We were served all the free Papa John's pizza we could eat! And we were able to see the NFL Experience as an insider.

 This was all great, but not enough for me. And, as luck would have it, my friend Ashley informed me that her company was doing staffing for paid positions AT THE STADIUM ON GAME DAY! Jackpot! She even said I'd get a better job since I was a friend. So I signed up and went to the training.

The training was held on event level (read: extra elite/field level) of Lucas Oil Stadium. I walked past the tunnel where the players enter the field. I walked past their locker rooms. I got a tour of the empty stadium. How awesome is that?

During the training session, they outlined what our responsibilities would be. And everything they told us sounded pretty awful, so I assumed they were just weeding out the weak with their scary story. But almost everything they told us turned out to be true.

They informed us that our shifts would be 15+ hours on game day. They told us we would not get to see any of the game. They told us to pack snacks in our pockets, because we'd be lucky to get a lunch break, and a dinner break probably wouldn't happen. Doesn't sound like the most fun ever.

I arrived with my great friend Harley at 8 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday at the command post for our jobs. Please note, the game didn't kick off till 6:28 p.m. and the gates didn't even open till 2:30.  I wore lots of layers, because it was a bit chilly, and though I hoped my job would be the one they trained me for (pushing patrons in wheelchairs to their seats, and back out after the game), I was afraid I'd be stuck out in a parking lot.

They issued us yellow long-sleeved polo shirts, hats, and HUGE two-layered coats. And then had us stand around for two hours. It gets hot in several layers of clothes covered by another shirt and giant coat. It was not comfy. Not to mention the weight and bulk of the several granola bars that were consuming all of my pocket space since I'd not be getting dinner.
My giant coat and many layers. I'm not really this big.

By the time I was assigned my job (I got to be IN THE STADIUM!) I was sweltering. I went into a ladies room and removed a few layers of clothing, which I had to throw away since there was no place for us to keep belongings, and my pockets were bulging with granola.

The rest of the day went like this, in a nutshell: standing around and walking the stadium and the convention center until the gates opened; waiting at the entries for fans that needed wheelchair assistance; pushing said fans across the convention center, outside, across the street, and around the massive stadium to their correct gate, then walking back again to wait for another trip. Let me tell you, pushing larger men in wheelchairs long distances and up ramps will do a number on an out-of-shape lady like me. Then repeat process from the stadium to the outside after the game. Done with last patron at midnight. That is many hours of standing and pushing.

We did indeed get lunch and dinner, both box lunches, both the same thing. Upside: cool official Super Bowl box lunch. Downside: carried those pocketfuls of granola all day for nothin'.
Official Super Bowl box lunch.

By the time we got back to the command post and were ready to leave, I'd spent 16 hours on my feet. And a good deal of that time was spent pushing a wheelchair. If you were to ask your lower back how he or she would feel about this kind of day, the answer would not surprise you: they'd say it would suck. And it did. My back was not a happy camper.

My final summary: I got to be inside Lucas Oil Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday. I got to be the person that greeted fans from other states and helped make their experience better. I got to see the behind-the-scenes  preparation that was put into that day. I got another Super Bowl coat and hat. :)  I snuck a few peeks at the field, saw a couple celebrities from a distance, and got to start using "credentialed" as an adjective.
Field, post-game.

Just so you know, I was eligible for re-entry, able to go inside rooms fans aren't allowed in, and able to enter suites, because I was "credentialed." :) I'm very important.

I'm "credentialed."

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