The Washington Nationals new field started installation yesterday with sod scheduled to be on the ground by November. Larry Divito Head groundskeeper is pretty excited to be moving into the new stadium. With only a hand full of home games left through November he will be able to be on site during most of the construction. The field will be composed of a gravel base capped with 10 inches of rootzone material and covered with a bluegrass sod. Standing is Larry Divito and Chad Price the Field contractor from Carolina Green responsible for constructing the field. Notice the press box ( highest part behind homeplate)
Since the field is basically sitting on the river banks of the Anacostia river there was legitimate concern that groundwater could infiltrate into the growing medium so a plastic non-permeable membrane was installed to cap the field in order to control any type of groundwater from damaging the grass roots. Its like a big bath tub! HOK architect Brain Smith has been working on this project and we’ve been hired on as the consultant to assist where we can during the design and construction.
Being in a few of these projects this time of the construction is pretty cool as you can really start to see how the ballpark will play.
After some real nail biting moments, the first Major International Baseball event in China was completed. We did it all ….pulled the big tarp, had irrigation breaks couldn’t find petroleum for the equipment, etc… Many of the volunteers had really caught on to the field maintenance and pregame activities by the final game. Japan ended up with the gold medal while China won the Silver and France the bronze. It was an amazing experience that had a happy ending. Too many volunteers to thank but they all did a great job!! Yes this is a big ground crew but the culture is to perform the task with many people…(makes it tough sometimes but we got it done.) For example painting the coach’s box line, having to carry off the BP cage because some days its broken.. This at times took up to 8 people due to the weight and quality of the equipment…which will be changed before next summer.
We had ordered 5 pallets of Soil amendment from the states (actually could have used 10) but the freight cost was crazy so we settled with 5. It arrived not a moment to soon as the rain came in the first couple days and the product saved us. Thanks to Paul Zwaska and Liz at beacon for pulling it off. You can only imagine the shipping process to china?it is extremely difficult, The Mound clay from Gail Materials held up exceedingly well and the volunteers really got into the packing and sweeping of the maintenance responsibilities Thanks to Luke Yonder for helping us through that process as well as the folks at Gail? Dave especially. Obviously we have a lot of tweaks to make but all in all the tournament was a success. Now we ( Brick man Sports turf) are off to Barcelona for the qualifier then Nicaragua and Taiwan for evaluations of parks.
With so many different cultures you have to be careful what you do or say in other countries. We had the ground crew performing the YMCA in China but when a few upper level officials heard that the C in YMCA stood for Christian …they had to pull it as not to offend other religions. Oh well? we will work on something else for 2008. The volunteers loved it!
The medal ceremony was crazy. The mascots are called friendlies. Funny name for a strange looking creature. Oh well, they have a distinct following of youth.
Again the best memories about the tournaments are the people you meet; the friends you make and experiences you share with people from around the world. Baseball is a worldwide family composed not only of athletes, but coaches, manager?s, officials, operators and best of all sports turf managers…
Thanks for all the compliments on the fields. A Bunch of you have sent notes and I have passed your comments onto the people who made it happen. Erik and Budge?great job guys. Looking ahead to the 2008 Olympics will be interesting.
Today is our final day of preparations before the " Good Luck Beijing" Olympic Test begins play this Saturday. Teams from China, France, Czech and Japan will be playing in the 5 day tournament which is being staged for training volunteers on all of the logistics in operating the venue, transportation hotels etc…
We had some pre event games this week to tryout some of the equipment as well as practice with the tarp, dragging the field etc. Probably 35 of our 50 field of play volunteers have never been on a baseball field…or even really understand the game. The greatest obstacle is the language barrier.
Take a closer look at the photo here by clicking on it…leading caption says "Current Situation" interesting view point for a score board. Also notice the amount of construction in the background…construction here is unbelievable. These fields sit on prime real estate which is another reason they are planned for demolition after the Olympic games. Money talks!
As mentioned before the equipment was made locally so it is not quite as simple to use as the items we have in the USA. For example the hitting mats take a few guys to carry…about 10…but remember, labor is not a problem here. I think the might weigh about 400 pounds which was a bit clumsy to remove. A solution that Erik Frey came up with was to cut it into three pieces. At least then we would be loosing any volunteers. Hopefully the rain gods will be nice to us. Its pretty humid here at 98%, plus the smog and the average daily temps of 94 degrees but the enthusiasm of the volunteers about being a part of this event is infectious so most of the time I hardly notice it. Hardly.