Former Merced High grad helping to set the stage at his 23rd Super Bowl in Las Vegas

For many people, the Super Bowl isn’t about the actual football game. They’re more interested in the commercials and the halftime show.

That’s where Bryan Ransom comes in.

Ransom, 57, who grew up in Merced and graduated from Merced High School in 1985, has spent this week in Las Vegas preparing for his 23rd Super Bowl.

Ransom works as the field team manager, overseeing a large team of people who push the rolling modular stage and scenic pieces onto the field for the halftime show.

This year, during halftime of Super Bowl LVIII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, Ransom will help set up for Usher’s halftime show performance.

Ransom also oversees the quick setups of the on-field stage for pregame festivities and postgame ceremonies, where the Super Bowl trophy is awarded to the winning team.

Former Merced High School graduate Bryan Ramsey, 57, is preparing to work his 23 Super Bowl on Sunday in Las Vegas as the field team manager, overseeing the large team of people who help set up the stage for the halftime show.
Former Merced High School graduate Bryan Ramsey, 57, is preparing to work his 23 Super Bowl on Sunday in Las Vegas as the field team manager, overseeing the large team of people who help set up the stage for the halftime show.

“I was the field producer for the San Diego Chargers for 25 years, but my my Super Bowl journey started in 1997 at Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego,” Ransom said. “I was hired by Radio City Productions to work on the pregame, halftime and postgame shows.”

Ransom has overseen the construction of the stages for some of the top names in the music industry, from pop stars like Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Beyonce to music legends like Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Prince and The Rolling Stones.

According to Ransom, it takes anywhere from 300 to 900 people to set up the entertainment stages at the Super Bowl.

Part of Ransom’s job is training the team how to prepare the stages.

“They are not professional stage hands,” Ransom said. “They are everyday people — teachers, lawyers, housewives, students. Anyone from the age of 18 to 80 is able to apply for a position. It used to be primarily locals from whatever city we’re in.”

Since starting in 1997, Ransom has only missed the Super Bowls in 1998 and 2003.

Ransom’s primary job is director of athletic bands at San Diego State University. He graduated from SDSU in 1991. He’s in charge of the marching band and the pep band for basketball games.

Ransom comes from a musical family. His older brother and sister were in bands, so Ransom was attending concerts at a young age.

His role as band director allowed Ransom to follow the Aztecs men’s basketball team’s journey through March Madness last spring when SDSU made a run to the Final Four and NCAA championship game in Houston for the first time in program history.

Former Merced High School graduate Bryan Ramsey will work his 23rd Super Bowl on Sunday in Las Vegas as the field team manager. He also has worked 10 college football championship games.
Former Merced High School graduate Bryan Ramsey will work his 23rd Super Bowl on Sunday in Las Vegas as the field team manager. He also has worked 10 college football championship games.

“Last March was amazing,” Ransom said. “I had a band and spirit squads at all the Final Four run. Most incredible memories, again, another very stressful and exhausting time, but wouldn’t trade that run through March experience for anything.”

Ransom has also worked 10 college football championship games in a similar capacity as the field producer, coordinating all pregame, halftime and postgame field moments.

His favorite halftime performer at the Super Bowl?

“My favorite Super Bowl show has to be Prince in 2007,” Ransom said. “A very challenging show, but if you were to ask 20 of us who have done multiple Super Bowl Halftime Shows, all 20 would rank the Prince show as their favorite. A special night.”

Preparing for Super Bowls and these big sporting events is fun, but Ransom said it can be a lot of long hours and hard work. Ransom has been doing rehearsals all week, working some days from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Ransom says he doesn’t get to watch much of the game. His game days are pretty busy.

“Sometimes the end of the fourth quarter, but busy otherwise,” he said. “My step count on game day is through the roof.”

“It’s amazing to be working on some of the most watched live TV events in history,” Ransom added. “A ton of work, long hours, and time away from family, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”