About an hour after the Royals’ season finale Sunday at Kauffman Stadium, a group of grounds crew members grabbed a golf club and put a pin in center field.
This wasn’t some end-of-the-season fun. Head groundskeeper Trevor Vance let them do it because the Royals are replacing the field for the first time since 1994. And if you believe that’s just a matter of replacing the grass, think again.
“This is a massive overhaul,” Vance said. “This isn’t just stripping the sod. We’re replacing the sod, we’re replacing the sand, we’re taking out part of the warning track.”
Below the grass is 15 to 20 inches of sand, which is on top of 4 to 6 inches of pea gravel and then irrigation pipes. There are more than 90 sprinkler heads. Vance said 10 to 12 inches of dirt in the infield are being replaced. The warning track’s crushed lava is being pulled up and the top 4 inches of material will be recycled and used at the bottom of the new material.
“Everything below surface, it started to become kind of like an old house,” Vance explained. “The irrigation was showing some age and it wasn’t draining as well as it had. Pipes were getting weak. We had repeated repairs with the system.”
When the field was installed, it was able to drain 20 inches of rain in an hour. Vance said testing showed that was down to 5 inches of rain per hour.
“The last thing we wanted to do was have our drainage system fail us,” Vance said. “It was getting up there in age.”
When the Royals’ season ends, Vance usually readies it for an extended break, then takes some time off. Not so this year.
The Royals hope to start laying sod at Kauffman Stadium by Nov. 13 and have the project completed by Nov. 22.
“Instead of putting it to bed, we’re just rebuilding it,” said Vance, who is in his 33rd year with the Royals. “If it happens once every 20 years, I’m happy with it.”
And because the changes were coming, Vance was happy to let the baseball field be used for golf. But just this one time.
“They spent so much time taking care of the place, we let them have some fun since it was coming out anyway,” Vance said. “We weren’t doing anything to damage it.”
Here are photos from Toby Cook, the Royals’ vice president of publicity:
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DETROIT, Mich. (WJBK) – An international champions cup match-up has Comerica Park field undergoing a transformation.
Vice President Comerica Park operations, Mike Healy, is thrilled to host the first soccer match at Comerica.
“We are really excited to be able to showcase international soccer in Detroit.”
But getting a baseball field to a soccer field, is challenging.
“We had to lower the pitcher’s mound,” said Healy. “We also had to lower the infield’s skin, so that the infield is the same height as the outfield.”
Crews are working 40 straight hours, and more, to transform the field. And last week’s Metallica concert did not help.
15 truckloads of new sod from Wisconsin were used to fix the outfield, and get rid of the infield and pitchers mound for the 70 x 110 yard soccer field.
“It’s different than football. A lot of major league baseball teams use the sod,” said Healy.
And they’ll be ready for Wednesday night’s game with two of Europe’s best, AS Roma versus Paris St. Germain.
Comerica Park holds 41,000. About 37,000 seats for the soccer game are available and 30,000 have been sold.
“There will be a vendors set up outside starting at four. Suites and hospitality opens at six, and the general public starts coming in at 6:30,” said Healy.
The game starts Wednesday at 8 p.m.
DETROIT – Comerica Park underwent surgery Monday as crews fixed and modified the sod on the field to accommodate a major soccer exhibition match.
About 40 percent of the field needed to be replaced after the outfield grass was torn up during a Metallica concert and heavy rains.
The damaged sod is being replaced and expanded into the infield to accommodate the International Champions Cup on Wednesday between AS Roma vs. Paris Saint-Germain.
Watch field crews work on the field below:
DETROIT — Comerica Park underwent quite a transformation over the past week, from a concert venue to a baseball stadium to a soccer pitch. In its latest form, the park hosted a 2-1 win (penalty kicks) for Paris Saint-Germain over AS Roma in an exhibition game on Wednesday.
It was the first professional soccer match in the history of Comerica Park, which opened in 2000, and part of the fifth-annual International Champions Cup, a tournament of pre season friendly matches between European clubs. The tour has stops in 11 U.S. cities (of which Detroit was the first), as well as in China and Singapore.
“I enjoyed it very much,” Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. “The public was great, however, once the match started, I focused on the game and on the pitch, which was a good soccer pitch, I have to say.”
Comerica was the venue for a Metallica concert on July 12, then hosted three games between the Tigers and Blue Jays from Friday to Sunday, before Roma and PSG played Wednesday. The goals were set up in left field and behind the first-base line. The pitcher’s mound was lowered and covered with grass, as was the rest of the infield, while the warning track surrounding the field remained uncovered.
“There was some parts where it was obvious that they made adjustments for the field,” PSG coach Unai Emery said. “But you can tell there was a lot of work put in to make it the best condition possible.”
Roma has a history of playing at baseball stadiums, having won at Busch Stadium last year and Fenway Park in 2014 and ’12. PSG is the two-time reigning champion of the International Champions Cup.
A crowd of 36,289 took in the back-and-forth match, buzzing for every shifty deke and shot attempt. Many fans wore soccer jerseys, though many represented teams other than the two on the field.
A general passion for soccer was evident among those who attended, which is a positive sign for Detroit as it vies for an expansion franchise in MLS. Detroit, which has a fourth-tier pro team, Detroit City FC, is one of 12 cities vying for four spots in MLS’s long-term expansion plan.
“I think this market would be great for an MLS team,” said Charlie Stillitano, the chairman of Relevent Sports, which organizes the International Champions Cup. “I think they’ve shown that.”
For a night, a crowd in downtown Detroit caught an up-close glimpse of soccer at its highest level. The players on the pitch looked out at the unique surroundings of their playing surface and put on a show.
“We’re very thankful and very appreciative,” Emery said. “We know that baseball is a very important thing in this city, and we enjoyed playing in this stadium.”
A week after hosting a Metallica rock concert, Comerica Park is taking on another identity as crews worked Tuesday to patch together a soccer pitch on the ballfield.
On Wednesday, the home of the Detroit Tigers will host the International Champions Cup soccer match between Paris St. Germain and AS Roma.
The pitcher’s mound, bases and home plate were removed to flatten the field, and 15 truckloads of sod were hauled in to cover the dirt base paths.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” Michael Healy, the park’s vice president of operations, said as crews worked behind him to transform the baseball field.
Healy said this is the largest, most challenging transformation the park has undergone and that crews were closing in on 40 hours of straight work to execute it.
He said he does not expect the match to damage the field like the Metallica concert last week. Nearly 4 inches of rain and the heaviest stage the park has hosted were to blame for damage in the outfield.
Immediately after Wednesday night’s match, crews will work to transform Comerica Park back into a ballpark. The are expected to finish the task Saturday, with usual maintenance leading up to the Tigers’ next home game Monday, Healy said.
Plastic was placed under the new sod in the infield to protect the base paths, he said. The pitcher’s mound will be rebuilt to the exact specifications of the MLB, using a laser for fine-tuning.
Sight lines for the soccer match will be better than most ballparks that host such events due to Comerica Park’s large infield, said Ron Colangelo, vice president of communications for the Tigers.
Capacity for the match is around 37,000. About 30,000 tickets have been sold. They can be purchased at detroittigers.com/soccer.
SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE.
Chicago Cubs fans probably won’t think twice about the appearance of the playing surface at historic Wrigley Field, built in 1914, when the 2011 baseball season opens.
But converting the baseball field back to its normal state actually was quite an undertaking for Steve Bush, a Rock Island County Farm Bureau board member, and his company, Bush Sports Turf of Milan.
Wrigley Field in November was transformed into a football stadium for the first time since December 1970 — when the Chicago Bears last played there — to host the 104th football game between the University of Illinois and Northwestern University (the two teams prior to Nov. 20 hadn’t played at Wrigley since Oct. 27, 1923).
When the most recent game ended, a 48-27 victory for the Illini, Bush and his company went to work.
“We started the Monday of Thanksgiving week, and it took less than two weeks (to complete the baseball field) even though we had snow, ice, and all kinds of weather to contend with,” Bush said.
Bush Sports Turf specializes in rebuilding sports fields to exact specifications. The company previously had installed sports fields at numerous colleges, minor league baseball stadiums, and two years ago renovated the field at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for the World Baseball Classic.
“We have the most sophisticated technology (including global positioning systems and lasers) in the industry,” said Bush, who also puts his U of I degree in agronomy to work in the turf industry.
“We mapped the field and did a lot of soil analysis at Wrigley (which led to the addition of a clay material when the new sod was installed),” he noted. “The field should play better next season.”
Bush farms with his wife, Julie, but the turf company has grown to about 80 percent of his business. He entered the turf business when he bought a grass seeder and started doing small, residential jobs.
“I was just looking for an alternative way to supplement my income,” Bush said. “In college, I had no idea this occupation even existed.”
Bush’s big break came when his company was selected to install sod for the TPC Deere Run golf course in Silvis, which is the site of the John Deere Classic PGA tour event.
The turf industry also turned out to be a great way for Freeman Seed Co. of Woodson in Morgan County to expand its business.
“Our family has grown certified seed since the 1940s,” said Jon Freeman, owner and operator of Freeman Seed Co. and president of the Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau. “In the early 1980s, we put in a conditioning plant and started selling grass seed.”
Freeman Seed Co. sells a full line of pasture seed, seed mixes for Conservation Reserve Program ground, and native grasses in addition to corn, soybean, and wheat seed. The grass seed business has grown to represent about 30 percent of the operation.
The turf grass seed mostly is grown out of state, but Freeman sells all of the seed in its Illinois territory.
“It’s another service we have along with corn, beans, and wheat,” he added. “It works out pretty well.”
The seed industry also provided an opportunity for Freeman’s son, Jacob, to return to the family farm/business.
The list is lengthy and impressive: Dodger Stadium, Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Field, the University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, Modern Woodmen Park.
But Wrigley Field, Steve Bush said, “is king.”
Mr. Bush, owner of Bush Sports Turf in Milan, is installing the playing surface at Chicago’s famed Wrigley Field.
This comes in the wake of the University of Illinois and Northwestern University playing the first college football game at the baseball park since 1938. But that’s not why Mr. Bush and his staff are rebuilding the entire field.
“It’s the whole process,” Mr. Bush said in a phone interview from Wrigley Field. “There was a heavy layer of sod placed over the infield to play the college (football) game. That’s being replaced. We will get the infield complete by Wednesday (today) and finish the outfield next week.
“It is a new field. It was going to happen no matter what, but they decided to play a historic football game before we got to it.”
Mr. Bush said a state-of-the-art GPS system, one that recalls every nook and cranny of the Wrigley playing surface, allows his company to put everything back where it was.
“We have some of the most sophisticated field-mapping and grading equipment in the sports-turf industry,” Mr. Bush said. “Part of the reason the Cubs selected us to help with this renovation is because of the technology we have.
“We came in before they converted the field (for football) and mapped the surface with all the locations of bases, baselines and irrigation. This allows us to put the baseball field back exactly as it was removed, only in better shape.
“Being a historic site, this is important. We put the file we created into our grading equipment and can replicate the old field with millimeter accuracy. We also did testing of the infield soils and are using this opportunity to install a much-improved infield surface for the Cubs.”
A University of Illinois graduate, Mr, Bush said there is a sense of pride in getting to work on the field that saw his Illini defeat Northwestern Saturday past.
“It’s cool as an Illinois alum to be a part of the historic, one-way college football game,” Mr. Bush said. “And the opportunity to work at the most storied of all baseball fields.
“We have been working with Roger Baird, the Cubs’ head groundskeeper, for quite some time and believe we have just what the Cubs need.”
With daytime highs in the 30s and nighttime lows in the teens, Mr. Bush said the dirt work on Wrigley Field must be done by today.
“You can put down sod in cooler temperatures, but cannot do anything with dirt when it freezes,” Mr. Bush said. We’re under the gun a bit, but we’ll be OK.”
Though Mr. Bush appreciates all the athletic fields his staff have brought to life, this job tops them all.
“It’s Wrigley Field,” he said. “It’s the best.”
When asked if he’s a Cubs fan, Mr. Bush laughed.
” I am now.”
Read the original article here.
FIFA doesn’t want to talk about installing grass for next summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada. The Canadian Soccer Association doesn’t want to talk about it, either.
Trey Rogers? He’s happy to talk about it.
Rogers, a professor of turf grass management at Michigan State University, was the scientist in charge of the installation of real grass over the fake version inside the Pontiac Silverdome for the 1994 men’s World Cup, when FIFA required that the playing surface there be changed to grass. He and his team spent more than a year and a half figuring out how to keep grass alive inside a domed stadium for a month.
“When we first started, I stayed awake two nights thinking about it because we didn’t have anywhere close to the answers,” Rogers said.
Twenty years later, the prospect of turning six artificial turf fields into grass ones for the Women’s World Cup — a tournament to be played mostly in open-air stadiums — seems to be an impossible task. Maybe that explains the silence of FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association. They have not responded to a letter from a group of top players threatening legal action, which is expected to begin shortly, or to social media pleas from top players like Abby Wambach and Hope Solo and supporters like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. This week, they also declined a chance to discuss the matter with me.
To Rogers, though, turning Canada’s artificial turf fields into grass ones is a no-brainer, considering his team left behind the blueprints for the job. “I know for a fact that it would work,” he said. “But it comes down to, ‘Do they want to do it?’ ”
He added — and this, I think, is the whole point of this debate — “If there’s a will, there’s a way; if there’s enough money, it can be done.”
So let’s talk money.
Rogers said FIFA spent about $2 million on the Silverdome project in 1994 and didn’t blink an eye. These days, according to several turf grass experts, converting each artificial turf field to grass for next year’s Women’s World Cup would cost anywhere from $150,000 to $400,000 per field, depending on where the sod is harvested.
In fact, it’s really not that big a job anymore. Steve Bush’s company, Bush Turf, needed less than 72 hours this month to lay grass over the artificial turf at Michigan Stadium for a friendly between Manchester United and Real Madrid.
The sod arrived in Michigan in a refrigerated truck from a farm in New Jersey, and Bush covered the artificial turf with a landscape fabric before bringing in thickly cut sod and installing it.
“You just unroll it onto the field,” he said.
The promoter of the game footed the bill. But why pay anywhere from $150,000 to $250,000 to install grass for just one game — again, a preseason friendly — that will be over in 90 minutes? Because the men coming to play on it demanded it.
“Anytime premier teams play in the United States, they won’t play on artificial turf,” Bush said. “They’re very picky, so this type of thing, going from turf to grass in a short period of time, happens all the time, all over the country.”
(One other example, of many: a company also laid grass at Edward Jones Field in St. Louis in May for a pre-World Cup friendly between Ivory Coast and Bosnia and Herzegovina.)
So the men are picky, but the women should just take what they are given, and like it? FIFA should know better.
Here’s how it could fix its growing public-relations disaster: It could dig into its deep pockets, which are lined with $2 billion in profits from this year’s World Cup in Brazil, and find the million or two it would cost to install grass fields for next summer. That would amount to shaking a few nickels and dimes loose in order to stage a proper championship for the women.
It would also spare FIFA and Women’s World Cup officials the public embarrassment of being ordered to do so by a Canadian court, which the players’ lawyers say is likely. And there is still plenty of time.
So FIFA should call Trey Rogers. He said the process would be laughably easy now, considering it was pioneered two decades ago.
Or call Steve Bush. He does this for a living, and said changing six fields to grass “would be no problem.”
Or call me. I’d be happy to provide phone numbers for both of them.
But please call someone.
Everyone is waiting for you to join the conversation.
Read the original article here.
Despite only being a preseason friendly, Manchester United’s match against Real Madrid at Michigan Stadium drew a sell-out crowd of 109,318 — a new record for a soccer match in the United States. The previous record of 101,799 was set by the 1984 Olympic gold-medal match between France and Brazil at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
The massive crowd at Michigan Stadium gave the match between two of the world’s biggest clubs a much more lively atmosphere than these teams usually find on their preseason tours. And with tickets ranging from $45 to $189, fans paid a hefty price for the privilege to make history and watch the likes of Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale ease their way into the new season.
The previous record for a club match in the U.S. was set by a 2009 friendly between Barcelona and the L.A. Galaxy at the Rose Bowl, which drew 93,137 to edge out a 2006 MLS match between Chivas USA and the New England Revolution attended by 92,516 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Big House also set the attendance record for a hockey match when it hosted 105,491 for the NHL Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings on January 1 of this year. The stadium’s record for an American football game was set by Michigan’s 41-30 win over Notre Dame last year, which had an attendance of 115,109.
Cristiano Ronaldo did not start against his former club as he continues to work his way back from the knee injury that troubled him during the World Cup in Brazil, but he did enter the match midway through the second half after getting big cheers every time he was shown on the stadium’s big screen.
Man United’s Ashley Young opened the scoring in the 21st minute, but Gareth Bale equalized from the penalty spot just six minutes later. Young then put Man United up 2-1 in the 37th minute and Chicharito made it 3-1 in the 80th minute, which ended up being the final score. But, again, this was only a friendly.
Read the original article here.