TAMPA, Fla. (WCIA) — The transformation is underway at Raymond James Stadium. Less than an hour after the Buccaneers beat the Panthers to clinch the NFC South, crews started working on the field to get it ready for Monday’s ReliaQuest Bowl between Illinois and Mississippi State. It’s a huge project with a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.
Workers are tearing out the grass in the endzones and at midfield, the big pirate flag at the 50-yard line was removed to make way for new sod to be laid. Then they will paint it with the ReliaQuest logo, the endzones will feature each school’s name.
And speaking of paint, a lot will be used. Fresh designs on the field were added, first a template laid down, then it took about 10 minutes to spray on the new Bowl Season marker. A Mike Leach tribute to the late Mississippi State coach is also included. It’s all part of a long night that won’t be completed until early Monday morning, one worker told me he hopes to leave by 5 a.m. ReliaQuest Bowl Director of Communications and Sponsorships Mike Schulze says it’s all part of a year round process to ensure everything goes to plan on game day.
“This is what you work for all year round to be able to showcase this area, our sponsors, the bowl game itself and help people have a great time and make some memories that will last a lifetime,” Schulze said.
Schuluze has his own crew of more than a dozen working in the press box to get it transformed and ready for the media. Raymond James Stadium is the home of the Bucs but Schulze and his staff want fans watching to know who sponsors the bowl game. Signage surrounds the field and tunnels, all with ReliaQuest logos.
“We had people on the field within minutes after the game ended to start the transition to the stadium and that includes a lot of different elements and a lot of different people who are going to be working all through the night to get the stadium all ready to go,” Schulze said.
The other big element to tackle in short order, making sure everything is clean. Workers first picked up trash by hand, then used leaf blowers to remove all the garbage left from the Bucs game. Then power washed every part of the stadium to ensure it’s ready to go in time for the game.
Illinois kicks off with Mississippi State at 11 a.m. Monday morning on ESPN2.