CARSON, Calif. — When the Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted his 11th goal of the season with the most dramatic of overhead bicycle kicks in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution, most Galaxy fans at Dignity Health Sports Park probably were thinking about having just witnessed one of the most stunning goals of the year.
A couple of team staffers, on the other hand, were more focused on the multi-colored net the shot nestled into than the actual goal itself.
Galaxy Director of Game Presentation and Events Vanessa Alexander originally came up with the idea for the rainbow nets after seeing it done successfully at other venues around Major League Soccer.
“We wanted to add something new to the game-day presentation to continue to incorporate Pride Night,” she told CoG. “We have various activations in-stadium with our rainbow corner flags and our LA Galaxy field painting, but we were looking to incorporate something new.
“We’d seen that a couple of other teams had been successful with their implementation of a rainbow net, so we tried to explore that a little further and got our hands dirty.”
Alexander turned to one of her coordinators for help, and that’s when Jon Reisdorf took on the project.
Reisdorf, who joined the Galaxy in March and also is in the game presentation and events department, quickly found out merely purchasing a rainbow-colored net would be challenging, to say the least.
They’d have to paint the nets themselves.
“So obviously a certain regulation net in depth and height and width — like even the width of the string — is completely specific,” he told CoG.
“I worked with our grounds guy Shaun Ilten (DHSP’s Director of Turf and Grounds) to figure out where I could purchase the nets and where we had to fight through a couple of battles with the holiday and getting them shipped in time.
“There are only a couple of companies that really sell them,” he continued. “So it was quite the search, but we finally found them.”
What Reisdorf and Alexander were buying, with little time to spare, were standard, FIFA- and MLS-approved, classic white nets. The colors would have to be added by hand, and the process for that turned out to be much more involved than randomly spraying colors.
“We first had to get them in to make sure we had the right size for them all,” Reisdorf said excitedly. “Then we pretty much stretched them up at one of the goals at our track and field facility where our G2 (Galaxy II) team plays.
“We stretched them out up there and marked off how we wanted to do it. I made a couple of paper copies of net dimensions to have a little grid of knowing what we wanted to do.
“And once we figured out the pattern,” he continued, “red on one side and purple on one side, just working across, we just had to do the math on how much space is for each (color).”
Reisdorf said there are five squares of red and purple along with 13 squares each for orange, yellow, green and blue.
Actually, it isn’t quite that simple.
Reisdorf and Alexander, for example, couldn’t simply string up a net and then spray paint. They continually had to take the nets up and down so the paint wouldn’t spray everywhere and ruin the effect. They also had to do it to both sides separately.
“It was a bit of a process,” Reisdorf said while twisting his hands in the air as he recalled a task that involved a crew of about 10 people and 72 cans of spray paint over an 8- to 10-hour period. “The surface area you’re trying to hit is very small and the spray is pretty wide. You kind of had to go over a lot of sections a couple of times.”
“It took a couple of days and everyone had some painted fingertips, but it was all worth it in the end,” Alexander said during Sunday’s match. “Especially now to see them out on the pitch as the background to some, hopefully, pretty exciting plays tonight.”
The Galaxy were celebrating Pride Night — one of the longest-running festivities in professional sports – for the sixth consecutive season. The first 5,000 fans who entered Dignity Health Sports Park received a mini LA Galaxy Pride Night scarf, and special ticket packages were sold for an exclusive Pride Night fanny pack designed with rainbow-colored straps.
Proceeds were donated to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the world’s largest LGBT organization, as part of its 50thanniversary celebration. The Galaxy also had a crowd of 20,828 on hand to experience it all.
Will the rainbow-colored nets that provided such a colorful backdrop be a permanent addition to Pride Night? It seems likely.
Reisdorf, however, doesn’t want Alexander to know he started to figure it all out.
“We definitely figured out the system a little bit better,” he said with a laugh. “Just don’t tell Vanessa that.