Nov. 12, 2004
by Chris Masters
Most homeowners today take special pride in their backyards, and Dan Brazo is no exception. It just so happens that his backyard measures 120 yards long and 53 yards wide and is surrounded by more than 80,000 seats.
Brazo is the athletics facilities manager at Notre Dame and one of his primary responsibilities is the maintenance of one of college football’s greatest shrines — Notre Dame Stadium. Through the fickle climate changes of South Bend, Brazo and his dedicated crew of eight meticulously work to make sure the stadium turf and grandstands remain as pristine as the day they were when the stadium opened nearly 75 years ago.
“It’s a very humbling experience for me and my crew to work here at Notre Dame Stadium,” Brazo says.
“This is the best job in the world and one of the more difficult aspects of it is to make sure it doesn’t just become routine. We can’t lose sight of what this place stands for and what it all means.
Maintaining a stadium of any size can be a daunting task. Then, when you add on the responsibility of overseeing all of the University’s other outdoor athletic facilities, including baseball’s Eck Stadium, soccer’s Alumni Field and lacrosse’s Moose Krause Stadium, Brazo’s duties could be overwhelming. He is quick to point out it would not be possible without the assistance of his veteran crew, which averages more than 10 years of experience per man.
“We couldn’t begin to do any of the things we do with the facilities here at Notre Dame without an exceptional crew,” Brazo says.
“I’m so appreciative of the job they do on a daily basis. Their experience and knowledge is something you can’t replace and I’ve been fortunate to have had to hire just one full-time person in my entire time here at Notre Dame.”
Brazo is a 1971 graduate of Michigan State, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in biology. Two years later, he received his master’s degree in the same discipline, and in 1989, he added a Ph.D. in biology. In addition, prior to coming to Notre Dame in 1992, Brazo was a research associate and instructor in the department of natural resources at Michigan State.
In 1999, Brazo assumed various duties associated with the development and environmental impact of the new Warren Golf Course, located on the north side of the Notre Dame campus. In August 2000, he stepped into his current role as the manager of all athletics facilities at Notre Dame, while continuing to serve as an instructor in turf grass management at Andrews University through 2002.
“I guess that between going to Michigan State and all the time I’ve spent working with these facilities and the environment, you could probably say my favorite color is green — with a lot of blue mixed in!” Brazo says with a laugh.
“In all seriousness, with all the growth in the world’s population and the rise in the production of chemicals and pollution in our society, I think we all have a responsibility to be more environmentally aware. That’s what we try to use as a guideline when we address any facility management problems here at Notre Dame. Education is our biggest focus and we look to put that into practice in our facilities.”
Ironically, Brazo is the first to admit that when it comes to his yard at home in Niles, Mich., it doesn’t exactly match up with Notre Dame Stadium.
“I’d guess my home backyard is probably the worst in the neighborhood,” he chuckles.
“But after you spend as much time as we do working on the turf at the stadium and at other facilities on campus, the last thing you want to do when you get home is turn around and work on your own lawn.”
One would guess Brazo’s neighbors will give him a free pass on his yard, especially in light of the hard work and energy expended by Brazo in making Notre Dame’s facilities among the best in the country.