August 2013

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Page 19 of 48

Facility&Operations | By Steve Bush, CSFM, CFB The first "pitch" at Busch Stadium I NEVER IMAGINED that in my lifetime I would have the privilege of doing the first pitch at Busch Stadium in St. Louis for a crowd of more than 48,000 fans. But that is exactly what happened last May. Busch Stadium hosted two of the most storied teams in English premier league soc- cer, Chelsea and Manchester City. It was a sellout crowd for the first non-baseball sporting events held at Busch Stadium since the venue opened in 2006. There were 48,263 fans in attendance, which is the largest crowd to ever attend a sporting event at Busch Stadium. Bush Sports Turf was chosen to collabo- Top: THE FINISHED PRODUCT. Photo by Taka Yanagimoto. Above Left: REMOVING THE INFIELD with a Terraplane rotor. Photo by Taka Yanagimoto. Above Right: REMOVING THE PITCHING MOUND. Photo by Taka Yanagimoto/St. Louis Cardinals. 20 SportsTurf | August 2013 rate with Busch Stadium head groundskeeper Billy Findley and vice president of stadium operations Joe Abernathy to convert the stadium from baseball field to soccer pitch—and then back to baseball field—in a 6-day timeframe. Our mission was to squeeze a 100 meter by 65 meter soccer field into Busch Stadium. It would require removing the pitcher's mound and infield clay, and sodding these areas along with the four corners of the field, which would be on the warning track, and then quickly turning the pitch back to a baseball field. There was a forecast for scattered thunderstorms forecast on every day leading up to the match, so immediately after the Cardinals played an afternoon game May 19, Findley and his crew removed all of the conditioner from the infield dirt and covered the infield with the tarp. Without any extra time to work with, it was critical that the dirt not get saturated. With 48,000 fans attending the Thursday game, the field simply had to be ready. To throw us a curveball, they added an exhibition practice to Wednesday night, meaning the field would essentially need to be done a day earlier that the original plan called for. PRE-GAME We had been planning this conversion for months, and had decided to use thickcut, 1.25-inch, sand-based sod from Heath Sod Farm in Wisconsin. We chose Heath in part because they were a regional supplier, which would save time and cost related to transportation. We also wanted a turf similar in color and density to the rest of the field, and that was grown on a sand-based root zone. We were concerned that using a native-soil sod could give us problems if it rained. As another measure for avoiding problems, we put a 6-mil, fiber-reinforced plastic under the sod to keep the infield dirt underneath from getting wet. This would also allow any excess water to reach the edges, where it could get into the sand rootzone. Our crew moved in first thing Monday morning and started removing the infield dirt. Findley and I were determined to provide a smooth playing surface without any noticeable transitions. We decided to take 1.25 inches of infield material out in

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