The Daily Reformer
INDIANAPOLIS – The task of maintaining the world’s largest NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket is just as big as the bracket itself.
It’s hanging up at the J.W. Marriot in downtown Indianapolis.
Sport Graphics handles the installation and upkeep of the bracket. Install Manager Austin Denney says it takes time, patience, and trust in the equipment.
“We enjoy it, we take pride in it. It’s kind of our baby,” said Denney.
To work on the bracket, crews go up on things called stages. Denney says because it’s so high, the trip up and down can take longer than the actual work.
“You make sure you go to the restroom. You make sure that you’ve got your coffee. Once you go up, you then come down. You don’t want to make multiple trips because then it makes it a long day.”
It’s a live bracket, meaning it’s updated after every round. It takes crews hours to do and it depends heavily on the weather conditions.
“Rain is one of those things that shuts us down because what we’re putting up is actually a giant decal. It’s a giant bumper sticker actually. And if we get rain, it doesn’t stick in the wet. Wind is more critical for us because that’s more of a safety issue.”
When it came time to update the bracket for the Sweet 16, he says they were worried about the wind.
“Any lightning shuts us down, but wind, we have to be cautious of,” said Denney.
“I didn’t want only half the bracket up. Don’t want to make any team feel like they’re being slighted because of weather.”
But they were able to get it done, which intrigued those walking by.
“I think it’s pretty amazing. It’s massive for one,” said John Nielsen who’s visiting Indianapolis from San Francisco.
“But I was also wondering how are they going to change all of these… but now I see what they’re doing. Somebody with a lot of guts is up there moving the information around. So that’s pretty cool.”
It’s something Denney knows firsthand.
“When you first go up, every little noise, is like, what was that? But you learn to trust your equipment, you learn to trust your safety supplies, and we only use the best.”
The bracket holds the Guinness World Record for being the biggest. This year it’s over 47,000 square feet and took 100 hours to print and 5 days to install.
When they update it, they remove the blank white strips and replace them, with what Denney described as a giant bumper sticker with the teams’ name on it.