Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2003

T-Bones turf takes shape as crews install park’s sod

April 16, 2003

This field of dreams was born in Colorado, but the young turf took root in its permanent home last week in Kansas City, Kan.

After spending the last few months being grown in Colorado, sod was brought from the neighboring state and plopped on the playing area at CommunityAmerica Ballpark -- the home of the Kansas City T-Bones.

Last Wednesday, sod was laid on the infield, while Thursday workers installed sod rolls in the outfield.

Work began about 8 a.m. Wednesday on the project, which Chicago White Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard and T-Bones groundskeeper Matt Mattes supervised. Mattes formerly worked under Kansas City Royals groundskeeper Trevor Vance.

"This is the best sod I've ever seen," Mattes said. "I've learned a great deal in my years under Trevor Vance and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to take ownership of a brand-new field like this.

"I'm going to take care of every blade of grass in here as if it were my own child."

Since the sod was installed last week, Mattes has watched his babies grow about 1 1/2 inches worth of roots.

T-Bones general manager Adam Ehlert said the installation progressed smoothly.

"The actual process is pretty standard," Ehlert said.

As the grass sprouts up, the stadium still is taking shape. Opening day is about 50 days away and workers continue preparing CommunityAmerica Ballpark for its debut.

Last Wednesday, workers were putting final touches on cement where seats will be installed behind home plate and along the left and right field lines. The stadium also includes a lawn area beyond right field where fans can hang out to watch the game. Another amenity at the field is the left field wall -- a smaller Green Monster that measures 18 feet in height. The wall measures 4 feet along the rest of the outfield.

"That should provide some excitement in left field," Ehlert said.

Tonganoxie High baseball coach Sean Randall is ready for those thrills.

A former minor league umpire, Randall will help call 27 of the T-Bones 45 home games including the first three series. The home opener is June 6, and on June 7 Randall will be the home-plate umpire.

The THS coach has yet to see the transformation inside the park.

"I've just been by," Randall said. "It looks gorgeous, though.

"I'm pretty excited to step foot inside."

The stadium's dimensions are 300 feet to left field, 396 to center and 328 to right. CommunityAmerica Ballpark also will seat 5,768 people.

Kansas City will compete in the Northern League, an independent baseball league.

Other teams in the league include the Fargo-Moorhead (N.D.) Redhawks, the Gary (Ind.) Railcats, the Joliet (Ill.) Jackhammers, the Lincoln (Neb.) Saltdogs, the Schaumburg (Ill.) Flyers, the Sioux City (Iowa) Explorers, the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Canaries, the St. Paul (Minn.) Saints and the Winnipeg (MB, Canada) Goldeyes.

The T-Bones begin the season on the road May 23 at St. Paul.

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