11/19/2007 2:23 PM -
Conversion of the playing surface at CommunityAmerica Ballpark began this weekend. The field is being converted from a strictly baseball-playing surface to one used for soccer by the Kansas City Wizards.
“Right now, we’re in the process of grading and leveling the infield so we can lay sod down,” said Don Frantz, head groundskeeper at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. “We’re going ahead and converting the baseball field to a soccer surface now so it will be ready to go right away in the spring.”
Over the weekend, grounds crews have removed sod from the back ring of the infield, increasing the dirt area by nearly 5 feet, a move Frantz described as preventative maintenance.
“We took the sod out from the back edge because we want to make sure that the area where dirt meets grass is level. Over the course of a baseball season, we’ll get some build-up and it can be difficult to level without removing that sod area.”
Frantz continued by saying that the conversion process from a soccer surface to a baseball one is just the opposite.
“We’ll pull up the sod on the infield, add dirt to make it level again, and then run a roller over it to firm the dirt and make it suitable for baseball use.”
Current scheduling calls for the surface conversion to occur 8 times throughout the course of the T-Bones season, which runs from May to September. The Wizards grounds crew, headed by Jerad Minnick, will aid in the conversion process, a fact appreciated by Frantz.
“The T-Bones and Wizards grounds crews are working hand in hand. The athletes and fans can look forward to an incredible surface. The Wizards crew will manage the pitch during soccer matches, but they’ll also have a representative here full-time, working with me. Having the extra help will make maintenance and other surface projects easier.”
One other change T-Bones fans might notice in 2008 will be the switch from the surface’s current Kentucky Bluegrass, to Bermuda.
“Switching to Bermuda will make a big difference,” Frantz said. “Bermuda thrives in the summertime and can withstand more wear and tear. Switching surfaces will be a great asset to both clubs. And that’s really the biggest challenge to Jerad and me: making sure that the athletes from both clubs are happy with the surface. If it’s done right – and we feel we’re making those steps – it should be a seamless transition.”