Results tagged ‘ Amsterdam ’

Checking out Ballparks for the 2014 European Championship


 


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Regensburg

Enjoyed visiting the ballparks last week that will host the 2014 European Baseball Championships.   Thanks to CEB President Jan Esselman and Czech Republic VP Lucie Cubikova for handling all the logistics.   Our friends in Regensburg Armin, Philip, Juergen and Martin were also a big help in getting around the country and seeing the park on a last minute check up.      The event will be held in mid September and played in 4 cities.  Regensburg Germany and Trebic, Ostrava, Brno Czech Republic.    Baseball clubs in Europe are operated much differently than the clubs and leagues we have in the USA.     Each city typically has a sports club that houses several sports.  In some cases the sport has their own field and venue.   Kids begin to use the club at a young age and work their way up in the levels.  In most cases they do not have a  high school or college baseball sport program  so the club development  fills the gap.  It’s a really cool concept as it brings the community together similar to the way our MLB academies function in the states.

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Ostrava

It’s great to see baseball growing in Europe.  A testament to the work that the IBAF, CEB and the World Baseball Softball Federation are doing to grow our game.   DSC05801

Brno 

 

 

Chad  also took a look at a pre-event training field in Paris France.  All synthetic field except mound and plate.  All of the tournament competition fields are natural grass.

Templiers Field 016Lieusaint France

 

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Trebic

 I also had an opportunity to see the new ballpark in Hoofddorp , Holland a suburb of Amsterdam.  These guys are not hosting any of  the European championship rounds  this year but i had a chance to see the progress on my return.    What a nice baseball venue!   The CLub team and city should be real proud of this park that has 5 fields and they added 2 half fields.  Ike , Joe and Chad are helping to train the local volunteers how to maintain the field. This week they are hosting an MLB clinic.

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Hoofddorp ( Amsterdam)  

Also took in the opening game of the Prague Baseball Week.  Home of the Eagles. Jan Begin the man who runs the sport complex had a nice crowd on hand for the event.   ( photo below)2377

2013 Ballfield renovations around the globe


First and foremost, Congrats to the Boston Red Sox on their 2013 WCS victory as well as my good friend David Mellor and his groundcrew.   It was a great series.

Although the series has just ended field renovations have been underway in numerous places preparing for the 2014 season.  Its a busy year for us with renovations in Lancaster and Tennessee.  Also ongoing new construction in Amsterdam  at the Pioniers new complex and in Australia as they prepare for the ABL season openers next next week.   Not to mention a major renovation at the SCG for the 2014 MLB Opener.  Hoping mother nature is good to  all the contractors.

lancasterWe built the field in Lancaster back in 2005.  It has been used for everything from ice rinks to soccer , football to concerts you name it,  this field has seen it.

lancastor new fieldLancaster was still “looking” OK ,  but after a field sees  8-10 years of high use it needs to be resurfaced because rain water begins to drain more slowly through the profile due to all the organic matter that develops over the years.   The main reason it has performed so well  has been the great turf managers that have taken care of the field.  Anthony DeFao and Josh Viet…Two guys in 10 years.   The field’s successful performance over the years reflects their hard work and dedication. The ODP group has always supported our efforts in in building and managing their fields.

amsterdam hooddorp fieldFinishing touches in Hoofddorp on the Pioniers new sport complex.  The main stadium field is going to be a real gem.   The folks in Amsterdam had a big storm recently and some of the warning track mix washed onto the field.  In an effort to remove the very small gravel they broke out the vacuum cleaners.   That’s commitment!

smokiesThe Tennessee Smokies new natural grass surface is another big upgrade.  This field has also been around for several years and used similar as Lancaster for special events.

SCG topdressedSCG renovation taking shape after a heavy topdressing of the newly installed “cooch” grass ( bermuda).  Although not a pretty photo this looks really good to turf managers.

Keeping It Real In Amsterdam


infield skin

The new natural grass sport complex being developed in Amsterdam is really taking shape.  Congrats to the City of Haarlemmermeer / Hoofddorp and the Pioneers Club team.   The construction of the mound and home plates are almost complete and the  sand based root zone is being installed.  Chad Olsen is also proofing the finish grade this week before seeding the bluegrass blend.    Looking back on the planning process of this project provided some interesting thoughts.  I’ve been asked a few times by some of my peers as to why they didn’t go with synthetic grass.  After all,  here is a country that sees a lot of rain and cloud cover as well as low temps and they have a short outdoor sports season.   However, its a question I could see coming from folks.   The  Grass /turf selection  was discussed extensively and through a few testimonials from dutch horticulturists and local sportsturf  managers,  we stayed the course with natural grass.   It was the right choice for many reasons, but the municipality needed to collect accurate information to justify the decision.

tulips in amsterdam

The Dutch grow some of the most beautiful plant material in the world.   The ground and soils are  designed for agriculture and the culture embraces nature and a natural  lifestyle.   The land of bicycles ,  the windmills for energy are abundant,  garden after beautiful garden criss-cross the countryside and recreational athletic fields are managed at a very high level.  I  could go on and on about this forward thinking country.  The streets are clean of trash,  all the common ground areas are free of weeds/high grass and the landscaping  is well-kept.  Bottom line,  the deciding factor to go with natural grass was due to the country having a huge appreciation  for maintaining things as well as the drive to develop a state of the art playing surface for their baseball and softball community.

Over the years I have had the chance to work at a few great places.  Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando was one of them.   The complex was programmed and designed to be open 365 days a year.  Ive heard the question a couple times as to why we didn’t consider going with synthetic turf.     One of the reasons… Reggie Williams , the VP of Sport for Disney was a former NFL Bengals football player and had spent  many years playing on synthetic turf which he was not a  big fan of at the time.   We all followed his lead and designed the fields and event management system with the ability to host multiple events.  For example we were able to host 1500 baseball games in a 6 week slot during the heat of summer.    We proved that natural grass could sustain extremely high use if the fields were designed and maintained properly.    The fact that Disney has a culture of maintaining things at a high level also helped with planning the maintenance operations.

When you are building that new ballpark or field, do your homework before selecting a playing surface whether it be synthetic or natural.  Both have pros and cons,  Many of you have played on both good and bad surfaces.     It may appear to be an easy financial choice but in the long run when you weigh all the facts,  there really isn’t a major cost savings when you compare both surfaces.    For many years I have managed  the baseball field at Hiram bithorn stadium in Puerto Rico for multiple MLB games.  It’s a synthetic surface and the staff, equipment and products we use are equal to managing a professional  natural grass baseball field.     The turf was replaced in 2004 for a new in-fill turf product and since this was the Montreal Expos home ground they wanted to keep it similar to what they had at Olympic stadium.    The City of San Juan has struggled with budgets like many around the world making it tough to justify field maintenance over police protection.    After 8 years of moderate use,  the turf is ready to be replaced/renovated and either option is an expensive process.

Puerto Rico in San Juan for WBC

Some countries take the “synthetic turf needs less  maintenance”  pitch  to the extreme which is unfortunate.  I’ve seen neglected  turf fields that need to be replaced after just a few of years of use because they were not groomed properly.  Maintenance is key to any surface selected.   The playing surface selection process should also be based on how the community views cultural  practices and if they have the capacity, resources or ability to maintain either surface at a safe level.    If you are thinking about changing out your field  do your  homework  about all the different options.   Reach out to your local natural grass professionals or contact the STMA (www.stma.org) for up to date info on some of the new varieties of turfgrass.        At the end of the day I’m hoping you can “keep it real” !

Busy baseball week in Germany and Europe


This  past week was a bit of a blur.  From Amsterdam to Munich to Regensburg.   With the teams starting to arrive tomorrow for the WBC qualifier in Germany,  I am sure they will be  excited about the field upgrades and temporary facilities built for the event.    Great Britain> Canada arrive tomorrow and  the Czech and Germany clubs bus in for the event.     All the teams are posting some big names MiLB names on the roster.    The  big chatter in European baseball is that the EURO baseball Championships just ended in Rotterdam and Italy came in 1st after a “unique” play off system  beating Nederlands.  Its pretty typical to see these two clubs be in 1 & 2 slots.  Spain was right up their too. Great Britain and Czech  fared well but they didn’t have the pro guys that  they will have for this event.

Anyway mounds, bullpens and infield have been worked on this past week.    John Deere provided us with a nice mower to showcase.   Our friends at Diamond Pro and BullDog Pitching rubbers sent over some products to jazz up Armin Wolfe stadium.     We even   scavenged a Covermaster tarp from the 2004 Athens Olympics that was still in storage for the games since Regensburg did not have one.   Pretty cool but it has no leaks after sitting for 8 years on a pallet.  Our volunteer Regensburg U18 team helped spread some product today.  What a great group of kids.

New Ballpark in the Nederlands under construction


In the suburbs of Amsterdam a municipality called Haarlemmermeer has started to build a new sport complex for the Hoofddorp Pioniers baseball club.  The site will compose of 5  fields including A 700 seat permanent seating bowl.  Plans to have the ballpark completed by the end of 2013.  Its going to be a really cool little park with all the amenities such as locker rooms, pressbox, fan experience etc..   For more about this wonderful project check out the masterplan called Park21..  http://www.park21.info/en

Checking Out London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium


During this past week I was on a bit of a whirlwind Europe tour taking in some venue and city tours, assessments, etc..  Amsterdam, Barcelona, Regensburg, Prague and London.   A highlight of the trip was seeing the Olympic stadium in Canary Wharf-London.   A very simple yet impressive structure with 82000 seats.  As with all the Olympic venues each has some type of tower located in and around the Olympic stadium.  The “orbit” is being constructed at the Olympic Park and from what I heard on the streets it has drawn mixed reviews.  I think it looks pretty cool and is a mathematical miracle based on the unique design.   Cant wait to see it when its finished.

In comparison the Olympic Tower built in Barcelona is pretty simple yet provides a wonderful view of the city.

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