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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, February 6, 2005

Royal Kunia Bowl looks just Super

By Zenaida Serrano
Advertiser Staff Writer

While many football fanatics gear up for Super Bowl bashes by loading their refrigerators with beer, chips and other game-time grinds, John Rau of Royal Kunia prepped for his party by stocking up on 45 cans of spray paint, at least 20 pieces of poster board and 30 latex and mylar balloons.

John Rau puts the finishing touches on his replica of the Super Bowl XXXIX football field, in anticipation of today's big game in Jacksonville, Fla. His field has become the centerpiece of the Super Bowl party that he and his wife, Dionne Rau, host each year.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. The biggest sports day of the year when — whether you're a football fan or not — you'll either attend a Super Bowl party or give a quick check to who won the game.

Rau goes one step further. One giant step. For the third year in a row, the supermarket manager has transformed his back yard into a replica of the Super Bowl field. He started work on it last week, and by the time his 30 or so guests arrive today, Rau will have painted the end zones with the colors of the AFC's New England Patriots and the NFC's Philadelphia Eagles.

He even has the Super Bowl logo painted at midfield and plans to simulate players running through a smoke machine blowing as kids enter through a tunnel. Mix in the goal posts — yes, goal posts — bleachers, an immaculately painted field complete with end zone pylons — and Rau's elaborate 32-by-16-foot replica is something that even legendary NFL turf specialist George Toma of the New York Giants might be proud of.

"Why not do something different?" asked Rau, 36, while taking a break from marking measurements on his lawn Thursday.

Rau said he came up with the idea of transforming his back yard while he was at work two years ago. He wanted to do something special because his wife Dionne's favorite team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was playing the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Rau looks over his yard before getting to work. What appeared to be a rather nondescript stretch of grass on Tuesday has been transformed into a replica of the field where the Eagles and Patriots will play.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

"Not too often does your favorite team get to (play) in the Super Bowl," Rau said.

Rau came home that day with some paint cans and PVC pipes, among other hardware store supplies.

"What the heck you gonna do now?" Dionne Rau, 30, recalled asking her husband.

By the time he finished, his back yard had been transformed into a Super Bowl replica. Each year, the field and surroundings become more and more precise. Today, the field has perfectly-marked yard lines (each "yard" is roughly an inch), bleachers made of lumber, painted PVC goal posts, a plywood scoreboard and three 500-watt work lights.

Rau is so into getting the details right that he even made stencils to painstakingly paint the end zones the appropriate designs and colors. This year, it's the red, white and blue of the defending champion New England Patriots and hunter green and white for the Philadelphia Eagles. The midfield Super Bowl logo is a bright navy blue, light blue, orange and white.

A hit from the start

"It's just awesome," said neighbor Chris Cozo, 39. "And the time that he puts into it — he just goes all out."

Super Bowl XXXIX

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots

1:25 p.m. kickoff today


By the numbers

$400 — Price of John Rau's project this year

45 — Cans of spray paint used to paint the field

34 — Hours to prepare the field

6 — Hours it took to make the midfield Super Bowl logo

3 — Years Rau has turned his back yard into a mock Super Bowl field

"The Backyard at Royal Kunia," as it's come to be known, has become Super Bowl party central for the Rau family and a couple dozen of their closest friends. Guests will watch the big game and enjoy football fare under a tented area beside the field, while the kids (and "big kids," Rau noted) frolic away on Rau's popular creation.

The field — and party — have been a hit from the start. The only problem, Rau said, is topping it each year.

Last year he added the bleachers, lights and a scoreboard. New this year is a players' tunnel — for the kids (wink-wink) — with a smoke machine, and a special players' entrance (for the adults) leading to the hidden field behind the house.

Longtime friend Wendy Bentosino, 39, of 'Ewa, attended the Raus' previous two Bowl bashes and has seen the football field's evolution.

"My kids love it," said the mother of three children, ages 2 to 7. "They can't wait to go ... and we can't figure out what he'll add this year. We're not allowed to drive by."

Bentosino, a full-time mom, is looking forward to what Rau has in store for Super Bowl XXXX.

A 34-hour task

"It's so neat," said Dionne Rau, who admits she gets as into it as much as her husband does. The preschool teacher took a week off work to help with the preparations.

Tackling the task is largely a one-man endeavor, but Rau gets some help from his wife and a carpenter friend. Completing the field takes a whopping 34 hours over several days. This includes cutting the grass, measuring and marking the lawn, spray painting the football field, and adding the embellishments.

The hardest part, Rau said, is doing the logos.

"Stenciling is the most difficult, no doubt, because it's time consuming," he said.

The process involves copying the Super Bowl and team logos onto tissue paper, enlarging them to the right size at a copy shop, transferring the images onto poster boards, then cutting out the stencils with a blade. The Super bowl logo alone took six hours to complete.

Rau's "Field of Dreams" comes with a $400 price tag this year. Helping keep costs down is the fact that the Patriots were in the Super Bowl last year, and that much of the bigger projects were bought in years I and II.

"Some people spend their money on Vegas, Christmas decorations or fireworks," Rau said. "I spend money on this."

On Thursday afternoon, Rau used a hand trimmer to prep his bare lawn, which he mowed on Monday. Then he used string to mark off the measurements. By Friday, Rau had painted most of the borders, the alternating dark green yard lines and he began the midfield logo.

'All about the event'

Rau worked under cloudy skies, his sleeveless shirt damp from spurts of morning rain and his fingers covered with white and green paint. The still air reeked of spray paint fumes.

"It's making me a little slow," Rau said and laughed.

Rau, who surprisingly isn't big on football, is rooting for the Eagles today, "even though I know the Patriots will win," he joked.

"It's all about the event. My passion is baseball and always will be."

With his 15-month-old son Evan, and his wife expecting another baby in about four months, Rau has no doubt that "The Backyard at Royal Kunia" will become an annual tradition.

"Last year the kids played on the field for 10 hours, in between eating and resting," he said. "When you see the kids enjoying it that much, it makes it so much fun, too."

Reach Zenaida Serrano at zserrano@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8174.