11/27/2007 2:52 PM -
The dirt infield at CommunityAmerica Ballpark is undergoing radical change for 2008, Assistant General Manager and Director of Operations Chris Browne confirmed Monday. The T-Bones will play on an all-sod infield for the 2008 season to help accommodate the Kansas City Wizards, who will be playing their home games at the ballpark for the next two seasons. Current plans call for an all-sod infield, except for the areas around the bases and home plate, which will remain dirt.
“From a logistical standpoint, moving to all-sod just makes more sense. Adding and removing dirt and sod between soccer matches and baseball games makes it difficult to keep a consistently level playing surface,” Head Groundskeeper Don Frantz said. “The goal is to keep a safe, pristine surface for the players and moving to an all-sod infield accomplishes that. From a fan’s perspective, I can understand how it might be a bit of a visual shock, but this is a decision that benefits athletes from both sports.”
Stadiums with all-sod infields, while less common, are not completely unusual. Browne previously worked for the Jacksonville Suns – currently the AA affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers – who used a similar surface.
“We used it for many years in Jacksonville in the Southern League,” he said. “The players loved it as they got a ‘true’ hop. It was also softer on their legs and knees as far as wear and tear on their bodies goes. From an operational standpoint it was the best solution to battle heavy field use, high heat and the daily afternoon rains in the Florida summer that would jeopardize batting practice and/or games.”
The field is currently undergoing grading, a process that involves leveling the dirt infield and preparing it for sod installation. Frantz said the process should be completed some time in the next few weeks.
“We’re getting the dirt out here in the next few days. We’ll be leaving the base pits. After that we’ll tap into the existing drainage, add sand to make it similar to the rest of the field, and then install sod. The whole process should take a couple of weeks.”
He also spoke about the advantages of an all-grass playing surface.
“With all-sod, infielders can expect a constant surface. It’s definitely a positive thing, but from a cosmetic standpoint, it’ll be a new experience for the fans.” Frantz continued, “We’ll also be able to customize the speed of groundballs. Although the field will look different, I’m confident fans and players alike will soon come to appreciate the new surface.”
The T-Bones will open play on the new surface on Friday, May 23nd, against the Schaumburg Flyers.