Below are a few general tips and considerations that can be used as a template or checklist when planning and or building a baseball field. First and foremost.
- Hire your sports turfmanager, or field consultant.
- Develop maintenance budget and begin to order equipment. A reputable field contractor can install a professional level field in 45 days so it’s important to be ready to take care of it when they lay down the grass.
- Secure the services of a qualified surveyor and field contractor and or field project director. Making small mistakes during the planning period could result in costly maintenance problems down the road.
- If you’re sodding the field, locate the grass source and determine the type you need based on your area. It’s important to do this early in the process so you can have the turf tested and growing properly before it is harvested.
- Determine elevation and grade lines to confirm existing grades and how they will change to allow your field to drain properly.
- Have a soil analysis completed to find out what type of soils you are dealing with. You will want to send the soil sample to a certified testing service that understands the difference between testing soils for roads, builds and sports fields. They are very different tests. They will test for particle size, percolation, soluble salts and PH. etc…
- Roto-till hard pan and subsurface soil if your site proves to be an impermeable surface.
- Determine irrigation system mainlines and outlets.
- Excavate and pour concrete footings for light towers, dugouts, stands and locker room.
- Determine the drain tile system, drain outlets, sewer system.
- Now is the time to install electric lines, cables, outlets to light towers, dugouts and stands
- Lay out stabilized areas; haul in aggregate for warning tracks, paths to home plate in front of dugouts, coach’s box, on deck, and fungo circles.
- Replace or prepare native topsoil – from soil analysis formula, mix in soil structure amendments. This material can be stockpiled on site. Again if you are building a sand based field system you will remove all of the soil from the existing field and replace it with a pea gravel drainage system and sand based root zone for the growing medium.
- Sterilize native soil materials if possible. Taking care of the weeds in this material can save a lot of money trying to spray out weeds in the future.
- Roto-till the soil for uniform and thorough mixing. Rework the area to grade elevations with laser grader
- Recheck grade elevations with surveyor’s report.
- Roll the area to a firm soil.
- Now would be a good time to install the backstops, fences, scoreboard, flag pole, foul line marker.
- Build the install homeplate pin and the pitcher’s mound
- Spread a starter fertilizer before laying down your grass
- Finish grading with laser device.
- Remeasure diamond and recheck grade elevations carefully.
- Set the home plate, pitchers plate, base anchors.
- Mark all grass lines, circles, arcs and boxes with chalk or lime.
- Plant the area (seed, sprigs, or sod)
- Build your bullpens and install warning track
- Finish construction and installation of dugouts, light towers, stands, locker rooms, showers, toilets, storage space, concession stands, and parking lot
The success of your field will depend on three factors. How it was built, how much it will be used, and how it will be maintained. These 3 pieces are critical to define before you put a shovel in the ground!
Checked out a pretty cool ballpark design plan in Hermosillo this past week. Hector Espino Stadium is in its final year as home to the Naranjeros and the new ballpark is to be ready for the 2013 Caribbean World Series. Hector Espino stadium has been home to the Winter league Naranjeros Club for many years and has also hosted Arizona Diamondback exhibition games . The new ballpark to be known as Sonara Estadio and is strategically located in the center of a new planned development south of the city.
As you can see from the Pinacate Volcano photo above the new ballpark has some similarities. Vincent Sagrestano head of CODESON, MPL President Omar Canizales, Arturo Lerma chief executive of Naranjeros, Juan Aguirre Manager of the Naranjera Organization, Enrique Mazon, club president, Ramon Ruiz league official, Carlos Gomez Project Manager , Marco Ruiz and Juan Macias Architects and city planners put a lot of thought into the design plan. The goal to make a place for people to gather year around was focal point. You’ve heard the saying “All roads lead to Rome” well all the roads in this future suburb will lead to the new stadium.
The 15000 seat ballpark’s unique design represents the El Pinacate volcano which is about 500KM from Hermosillo in the State of Sonara. The Biosphere Reserve has an extensive history in the area as well as a cultural bond. The ballpark will have a natural grass field adding more natural eco systems to the venue. An exciting project!
Preparing to build a field starts with homeplate. The entire ballpark is determined by where the back tip of homeplate is located. orientation is always discussed as an issue and what MLB recommends is a direction fo North-Northeast which works fine for ballparks North of the 3o latitude. Homeplate areas vary in size typically they are 26 ft in diameter however many make them larger to 30ft to reduce turf wear and tear. Again 26ft is a recommendation. The actual home plate is made of rubber and has five points. A regulation home plate is a 17-inch square with two corners of the square removed. The dimensions of home plate are 17 in. by 8½ in. by 8½ in. by 12 in. X 12 in. The home plate is set into the ground with the point at the intersection of the lines that extend from home plate to first base and third base. The 17 in. side of the plate faces the pitcher. The two 12 in. sides face the first and third baselines. The top edge of the home plate should be bevelled (have a slanted edge). Home plate is set into the ground, level with the ground. The homeplate should be a smooth slab of white rubber. The Schutt Bury-All type home plate is the most used throughout North America for higher level play.
There are many steps to developing a baseball field and for it to be successful the site will require research. It’s important to have input from all parties that will be involved with the field(s) development. The following are all very important components of the playing field that should be reviewed and discussed with all of the users. Before you move forward with these specifics, you should consider the following field development issues. They will help you define your goals in developing the field that best suits your budget and your needs.
- Issues to consider when choosing a site for your baseball field?
- Location of the area within a city, farm land, city owned land
- Field Orientation- Is the sun going to set in the wrong part of the field?
- Convenience for players and public
- Transportation issues
- Safety of players and guests
- Multi purpose use considerations
- Opportunityfor future growth
- For what age group or classification will this field or fields be used by?
- How often will they be used and during what time of year
- Type of construction. High performance or Recreational
- Who is going to maintain the field?
- Value engineering
- Cost of development –Design services
- Value Engineering (Again)
- Cost of maintenance
- Is the facility to be used for high level play?
- Field Lighting and at what level.
- Dugouts, fencing, batters eyes etc…
- Topography of the existing areas
- Natural drainage of the area
- Amount of grading and fill necessary
- Soil of the area (the foundation subsoil and surface topsoil)
- Have they completed an soil borings to evaluate sub soil conditions
- Condition of existing turf
- Utilities, Electricity , Sewage
- Stormwater issues and flood plain concerns.
- Construction Time Line – When do you plan to have the field used for play?
- Location of the area – Community, downtown, etc…
- Accessibility for public, deliveries etc.
- Transportation issues- traffic bus schedules, train etc..
- Hotels- what is the closest and can they provide your needs for tournaments
- Synthetic or Natural turf
Be sure to reach out to MLB reources for additonal materials to help with your baseball field development. There are a lot of sources on the internet some that are accurate and some that are not.