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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities
Landsape Services employees helps get site ready for College GameDay.

Landsape Services employees helps get site ready for College GameDay.

Game-day defense


Oct. 31, 2012 

As soon as University Event Coordinator Michael Mitchner arrived in the office on Monday, Sept. 24, he heard the news. ESPN wanted to host its Sept. 29 College GameDay program at Michigan State for the Spartans’ game against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

College GameDay is a weekly television show held on college campuses across the United States on football game days. The GameDay staff chooses which campus to visit depending on which game they believe is going to be the biggest match-up.

“After all the college games are played on Saturday, ESPN assesses the scores and looks at the next week’s match-ups and makes a decision from there. This time, they chose the MSU vs. Ohio State game, “said Mitchner.

Having only a week to get the campus ready, Mitchner contacted members of the Physical Plant* as soon as the details were worked out and a location was set. ESPN approached President Lou Anna K. Simon with the idea of selecting an iconic University setting for the show.  President Simon chose “The Oval” and a view of Beaumont Tower across from the Main Library – the perfect backdrop to capture the beauty of MSU’s campus.

Many Physical Plant employees were involved in bringing College GameDay to MSU.

Telecommunications Mechanic II Tom Matt and Telecommunications Mechanic Is Adam Joyce and Chris Grewe set up the phone lines ESPN requested, and ran them from Linton Hall to ESPN’s spot on the field through the steam tunnels.

 “On game day, the Telecommunication department manages the frequencies of all the media partners, including ESPN, running the headsets for the football team, running all the phone lines for all the media partners and manages all the phones and credit card lines for all the activities in the stadium,” said Planner/Inspector/Analyst II Nick Kwiatkowski.

To set up for GameDay, ESPN brought in semi-trucks filled with equipment. One problem: They would have to drive over the ground surrounding Beaumont Tower. The weight of a semi can compact the soil, creating a problem for the trees in the area.

Soil compaction can damage a tree over time as compaction makes it difficult for the roots of a tree to breathe which can lead to its death. Members of Landscape Services are trained to know how to prevent this from happening.

“The soil, if it’s driven over by heavy equipment a few times, can compact to the bulk density of concrete. When it’s compacted, it eliminates the air and space for moisture to be stored and the trees either starve for oxygen or lack the water they need to grow and thrive,” said Campus Arborist/Landscape Services Coordinator Paul Swartz. Swartz worked with Mitchner to help prepare the campus for GameDay.

Not only did Landscape Services have to protect the landscape from the semis, but also the pedestrians. The crew put up many sidewalk closures to reduce the impact of pedestrians walking in the area.  

“The crews in Landscape Services really came together for the event. We had gardeners, arborists, mowers, landscapers, etc. working together to accomplish a lot of work in a very short time. I think it was a proud moment for the Physical Plant and an unusual challenge that turned out very positive for the promotion of the University,” said Landscape Architect II/S Adam Lawver.

While the Spartans might not have celebrated a victory, losing to Ohio State 17-16, the Physical Plant was well-prepared and celebrated a victory of its own: The protection and preservation of one of the most scenic parts of campus.

September/October 2012

*Prior to the creation of Infrastructure Planning and Facilities in January 2013, several IPF departments were a part of the now-dissolved MSU Physical Plant. Some historical articles on this website reference that former unit.

Employees involved in this project:

David Metzger
grounds aide

Mike Miller
landscape gardener I

Jeff Pavlik
arborist I

Derek Proulx
agriculture and special quipment operator I

Ben Schwarz-Schneider
grounds horticulture assistant I

Nate St. John
clerical assistant III

Lucinda Stahl
landscape gardner II

Anna Siegel
landscape gardener I

Charles Sump
arborist II

Paul Swartz
campus arborist/landscape services coordinator

Darryl Taylor
landscape gardener I

Jerry Wahl
arborist III/group leader

Dallas Walters
Grounds Aide

Llewellyn Drong
grounds aide

Matt Ferenbach
arborist I

Scott Feick
nursery worker

Dave Franco
arborist II

Rudy Gaytan
grounds/site construction/ group leader

Sarah Greene
groundskeeper II

Paul Harper
arborist III/group leader

Brian Keesey
planner/inspector/analyst I

Fred Kester
landscape services coordinator

Adam Kingsbur
planner/inspector/analyst I

Zac Kranich
grounds horticulture assistant I

Adam Lawver
landscape architect II/S

Mark List
grounds aide

Tim Malburg