The Business of Leo Aguilar Memorial Stadium
Reported by Kasey Wehrum
Here’s a look at the companies that provide the lights, field paint, 10-yard chains, and band uniforms used during Friday-night football games at Los Fresnos High School in Texas.
Leo Aguilar Memorial Stadium, Los Fresnos High School, Los Fresnos, Texas | 09.03.10 7:48 P.M.
Friday nights in Los Fresnos mean one thing: high school football. During games, Leo Aguilar Memorial Stadium is illuminated by 114 1,500-watt bulbs in fixtures manufactured by Musco Lighting. Founded in 1976 by Myron Gordin and current president Joe Crookham, the 1,500-employee company provides temporary and permanent lighting for movie sets and sporting arenas such as Yankee Stadium and Churchill Downs. The company, based in Oskaloosa, Iowa, won an Academy Award in 1986 for innovations in movie lighting.
During the game pictured here, the Los Fresnos Falcons rushed for 100 yards and threw for 199 yards. Those measurements would be difficult to make without field paint by Cleveland-based Pioneer Athletics. The company's Brite Stripe paint, which is designed to stick to grass blades without flaking or rubbing off on uniforms, adorns nearly 25,000 athletic fields across the country, including the turf at the Pittsburgh Steelers's stadium. Founded in 1905, Pioneer originally sold house paint and chicken feed. The 120-employee company is now run by Doug Schattinger, the great-grandnephew of co-founder Otto Wehe, and also makes industrial coatings for schools and hospitals.
Come halftime, the 208 members of the Mighty Falcon Band take to the field in maroon, white, and gold uniforms made by Fruhauf Uniforms in Wichita. Austrian immigrant Herman Fruhauf founded the company in 1910, manufacturing ceremonial attire for lodge and fraternal organizations as well as uniforms for town bands and circuses. His great-grandsons, brothers Ken and Richard Fruhauf, now run the 150-employee company, which supplies band uniforms to thousands of high schools and colleges nationwide, including the University of Notre Dame.
Football is a game of inches, so there is a lot riding on the accuracy of these 10-yard chains, which were made by Tuf-Wear/Dial-A-Down. "They can't be a half-inch more or less than 10 yards, or else we're screwed," says president John Gaetano. Gill Spillett founded boxing equipment maker Tuf-Wear in New York City in 1931. Gaetano and a team of investors bought the business in 1987 and moved it to North Platte, Nebraska. The 25-employee company now licenses the Tuf-Wear brand and focuses on making football equipment. It is an official supplier to the National Football League.
Staff editor KASEY WEHRUM has written for Inc. magazine on subjects ranging from the businesses behind professional bull riding to gadget inventor and father of the infomercial, Ron Popeil. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Worth, Budget Travel, and on MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn.