TAMPA, Fla. — George Toma, a 91-year-old groundskeeper, has prepared the field before every Super Bowl, and this year is no exception.
Toma, who is known as the “Sod Father,” “Sultan of Sod,” and “God of Sod,” is already preparing the field in Tampa, Florida.
“It’s an honor for me to do this,” Toma told WFLA.
Toma was head groundskeeper for many years for the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. He also was groundskeeper for the Royals. He has worked every championship game for the NFL.
“In the early days, the first 20 Super Bowls, we only had, maybe, six to 12 days to get the field ready,” he said. “Now, we’ve got six weeks.”
Toma said Tampa is one of his favorite Super Bowl locations.
When it was the site of the 1991 championship game, however, he had his work cut out for him. Rehearsals for the halftime show left an indentation in the center of the field.
“It was bare dirt. Bare dirt!” Toma recounted to the Kansas City Star in 2018. “I couldn’t paint the NFL logo there because it was painting dirt and nothing would be left. So I told them we were going to sod it. And they said ‘It’s 6 o’ clock. Where are you going to get 1,000 square feet of sod?’ I said don’t worry about it. We’ll get it done.”
And they did.
Toma knew the groundskeeper at the University of Tampa who allowed him to grab the necessary sod from the soccer field.
“We got over there and the crew member for Tampa Bay stadium says, ‘The gate’s locked!’ I said ‘I know it’s locked. Crash it! Go right in there! Break it open!’ So he crashed the gate, and we took a 1,000 square feet of grass along the fence all the way around the field,” Toma said.
The school was compensated for the broken fence and grass, Toma said.
Toma plans to continue his groundswork for the NFL.
“In slowing down, it’s up to the Lord, whatever the Lord wants me to do is what I’m meant to do,” Toma told WFLA.
Cox Media Group