Behind the scenes of the Super Bowl halftime show with a crew member

Justin Timberlake performs during the Super Bowl LII Halftime Show.
Justin Timberlake performs during the Super Bowl LII halftime show at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Gregory Shamus | Getty Images

As Twitter exploded in a backlash Saturday night about the rumors that a Prince hologram would appear at the Super Bowl LII halftime show, Delane Cleveland already knew it was not happening.

He just couldn't tell anyone.

Cleveland knew that a projected image of Prince would appear on a flowing sheet or tarp during the show and how pop megastar Justin Timberlake would introduce one of his music idols.

"This one is for you Minneapolis,'' Timberlake told the crowd as he played the piano and launched into "I Would Die 4 U'' from the Purple Rain soundtrack.

Justin Timberlake performs the Prince song 'I Would Die 4 U.'
Justin Timberlake performs the Prince song "I Would Die 4 U" in front of a projection of the Minnesota music legend.
Evan Frost | MPR News

It was Timberlake's third Super Bowl halftime performance.

Cleveland, 36, of Minneapolis, was one of 500 field team members working behind the scenes for weeks before Timberlake and his band, the Tennessee Kids, took the stage Sunday.

Cleveland knew the truth behind all the gossip over what would or wouldn't happen during the show — he just couldn't talk about it until afterward.

The University of Minnesota Marching band announced on Twitter that their secret was out too: They marched in the show.

Tuba player Owen Luterbach said the band played during the song "Suit and Tie," as well as some other parts of the show.

The University of Minnesota Marching Band performs with Justin Timberlake.
The University of Minnesota Marching Band performs with Justin Timberlake.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Luterbach says the band began lobbying last October on social media to play at the Super Bowl, using hashtags and making a video.

'I would do whatever I could' to get into stadium

His journey all started with Cleveland's desire to just get into Super Bowl LII.

"I would do whatever I could to get into this stadium for this game," he said.

But he was not about to pay $3,000 or more for a ticket, he said. So he just had to find another way.

Delane Cleveland
Delane Cleveland
Submitted image

Then, one of his coworkers at CCX News saw that the halftime production crew was looking for "field team members" — the crew of 500 people that make the show happen, moving Justin Timberlake's stage on and off the field.

Cleveland said there wasn't a formal interview to get the gig: You just needed to commit to the practice schedule and say you can push around 50 lbs.

"I was yes on both," said Cleveland, who is a reporter at CCX News, Northwest Community Television.

On day one of training, Cleveland was wondering if he would get to be one of the "fake fans" who gather on the field during the show to scream for the performer.

He promptly got an answer: No.

Those are "casted audience members," and they would comprise about 1,000 high school dance team members from around Minnesota. The first couple rehearsals involved learning how to move around the different sections of the stage. Cleveland and 11 others were responsible Sunday for the section of the main stage where Timberlake performed.

Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show
Justin Timberlake performs with the University of Minnesota marching band during the halftime show.
Streeter Lecka | Getty Images

In total, Cleveland said the stage included 24 or 25 sections.

Then crew members had to learn how to navigate each section into its place in the field, while avoiding the painted endzones, Super Bowl logos and NFL shield.

On Sunday, the 500 field team members met in St. Paul at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. They took buses to U.S. Bank Stadium and waited in tents outside until it was time to get to work.

Members of the Super Bowl halftime show field team wait in a tent.
Members of the Super Bowl halftime show field team wait in a tent outside U.S. Bank Stadium before kickoff.
Courtesy of Delane Cleveland

After the six minutes of setup, 13 minutes of show and six minutes of tear-down, the crew bused back to St. Paul.

They didn't get to see any of the game, but Cleveland said there was a party and food waiting for them back in St. Paul.

For his labor, Cleveland earned $10 an hour and a custom halftime show hoodie sweatshirt.

And on Friday, Timberlake bought everyone s'mores and hot chocolate.

It was a good spread, too, Cleveland said.

"They had three different flavors of marshmallows, a couple different flavors of chocolate," and plenty of toppings for the hot chocolate.

Cleveland had to use a couple vacation days to make the practices.

But for this, he said, it was worthwhile.

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