Super Bowl, super snow removal plan

January 31, 2014 -  By

In the run-up to Super Bowl Sunday, there has been as much talk about the weather as there has been about who will win, the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks.

Photos: Canete Snow Removal

Tom Canete and his ‘army’ are ready to take on the snow should it fly on Super Bowl Sunday.

Why all the fuss? The game, being held at MetLife Stadium at Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J., is the first Super Bowl to be played in an dome-less stadium in a cold weather city.

A chance of snow means there’s a snow contractor at the ready to get the facility in tip-top condition for game day. Tom Canete, CEO of Wayne, N.J.-based Canete Snow Management, is that man. His company is in year one of a five-year snow removal contract with MetLife Stadium, including plowing/salting parking lots and physically removing snow from inside the facility. We checked in with him today to see how preparations are going for the Big Game.

LM: How are you feeling with the Super Bowl just two days away?
Tom Canete (TC): I’m over at MetLife right now. We have 200 people in here cleaning the stands and wiping the seats down today and tomorrow. We’re cleaning all the salt residue off the 80,000 seats. We had 12.5 inches of snow in here last week and we cleaned every square inch of it out.

LM: So, what’s the weather going to be like?
TC: It’s going to be a bit on the warm side, but there is some precip in the forecast and because the game doesn’t start until the evening, the temps may be dropping.

LM: How many people do you have on hand?
TC: They can give us a call for anywhere from 200 to 500 people. Last week during the big storm we had right around 500 people. There’s a huge, heated pavilion tent in the parking lot. They treat us very well. It has flat-screen TVs; they give us two meals. About 75 of our guys are going to be on standby there.

For the season we recruited over 2,000 people, so for this game there could be about 500. For any day, you’re going to get about 25 percent of what you’ve recruited.

I’ve got people coming from all of New York and New Jersey. They arrive on Greyhound buses from Manhattan, Washington Heights, North and Central New Jersey. The buses stay outside the whole time we’re in here working and then take them home.

At any given time they give me two days notice and we’re in here doing whatever they need, even stuff we’re not contracted for because they love us. Calling us is like calling 911. They wanted 150 to 200 people in here today to sweep the aisles and wipe down the 80,000 chairs.

Photos: Canete Snow Removal

A Dec. 14 snow and ice storm gave Canete’s crews some seat-clearing practice in case it snows on Super Bowl Sunday.

LM: How do you plan to manage such a daunting task?
TC: The stadium has a good snow plan, but it’s very basic. I put a storm action plan together for them. Their plan is basically you shovel to the end of the the row and put the snow down a snow chute. It’s pretty primitive. We worked in here on an ice storm on Dec. 14 and we had 8 inches of snow. I was losing sleep. I knew there had to be a better way. I came up with a different plan, and we got to try it out last week. Each crew had been 30 guys. We were able to knock it down to 20 by implementing my new plan, so that was pretty cool. We use gas-powered brooms, backpack blowers and I created a whole process on how it works, like an assembly line.

I created a video and PowerPoint and presented it to the vice president of operations here about two and a half weeks ago. He made me rewind the video three times and he sent it to some big kahunas at the NFL because the NFL is in charge here now, not MetLife. When we were here working last week some guys with Philadelphia Eagles jackets came through to see how we were doing everything, so that was pretty cool.

LM: How will you communicate with all that staff?
I have a cart, like a golf cart, and I call it my motivation cart. We built a bed on the back of it to carry around crates of power bars, hot chocolate, waters, that type of stuff. In between the two meals, we’ll be driving it around. I have 20 supervisors; they’re each in charge of 20 to 30 men and women; we have some really great women. They pick the top 10 from their crew and they’ll get their break first and they’ll get to come down to the tent to warm up.

There are three senior supervisors, I’m one of them, in charge of the rest of the supervisors. I bought us bullhorns, not to yell at people, but mainly to get a message out real quick.

LM: There has been a lot of talk in the media about the weather and the worry it will snow. Does that make you nervous?
(Pshaw). Whatever. We’ll take care of it. I’ve got an army.

LM: Who are you rooting for?
I’m rooting for the Broncos. I’m a Giants fan. (Peyton Manning) is our quarterback’s brother.

LM: Anything else on your mind with the Big Game two days away?
Honestly, this is one of those things that makes me feel really good because I had so many people telling me not to do it. (They said) you’re crazy. Don’t take the MetLife contract. It’s going to affect your normal operations. You’re not going to make it. The more people said it to me, the more I was determined to make it happen. We’ve had a lot of practice this season and we have four more years of this.

Photos: Canete Snow Removal

Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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