Thousands of fans poured out of Jones AT&T Stadium Saturday after Texas Tech football lost to the University of Oklahoma in game that was close down to the last few minutes of play. The stadium has room for over 60,000 fans, as well as all the trash those fans leave behind when they exit the stadium.
Steve Maines, Director of Event Operations for Texas Tech helps coordinate the clean up effort. Maines said that for an average game at Jones Stadium, crews pick up enough trash to fill roughly 500 of the 50-gallon trash bags. He explained that the more fans attend the game, and the longer they stay, the more trash crews will have to cleanup
“It wasn’t a blowout by either team so everybody stays,” he explained, adding that crowds took an especially long time to leave the stadium Saturday night.
When the fans leave, the battle begins between cleanup crews and the trash strewn across the stands.
“We divide the stadium up into half and the west half gets cleaned up by the band organization –the fraternity of band members come in–and clean all the the south and the west, and the east side and the north end are cleaned by other student organizations. They have somewhere between 35 and 40, sometimes 50 members of their organization come and clean,” Maines explained.
These student groups are paid to help out by Texas Tech, it’s a fundraiser for organizations on campus that are willing to put in the extra time to spruce up Jones Stadium. Maines explained that crews first pick up recyclables, then come through in a second wave picking up trash.
This week it was the Texas Tech Air Force ROTC’s turn to help clean, they brought out roughly 40 members to put on gloves and toss the things other people left behind
“There’s so much stuff left behind when I go to a game, I try to take my water bottle with me. The amount of stuff that’s left behind, I think it’s kind of overlooked,” explained Cadet Justin Yeck, a Senior Wing Commander for Detachment 820 with the Air Force ROTC.
His team got to work at around 11:30 p.m., and crews continued picking up the stadium until 2:15 a.m.
They packed bags with everything from popcorn, cotton candy, beads, broken glass, tortillas– and worst of all– nachos.
“Cheese nachos– they turn the nacho boxes upside down so you got cheese all over the floor, that’s not a fun deal,” Maines said.
Yeck agreed, nachos are the worst to clean up. His philosophy for cleaning is, “just grin and bear it.”
He explained that his cleanup crew is also motivated by their love of Tech football, they want to make sure that Jones Stadium looks as good as possible.
“These kids [here cleaning] I know they got party plans, they got places they want to be, but here they are after midnight cleaning up, so there are still a lot of good people doing good things. I’m proud of them for doing this,” Yeck said.
Maines said that Texas Tech has the cleanup duties down to a science. On Monday they will blow out any extra trash and hose down the stands– a process Maines said will take all day.
But he added, it can’t hurt for Red Raider fans to help lighten the load for cleanup crews as they leave the stadium.
“If you have trash in your area, we just ask that you take it to the trash cans whenever you leave,” he said.