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An Update on the 2020 'Fields of Dreams' Construction

Posted By MaryHelen Sprecher, Friday, August 30, 2019

It’s still a year away but the first-ever Major League game to be played at the iconic “field of dreams” in Iowa corn country is already a home run in terms of publicity. An 8,000-seat park will be built on the site of the famous set – and tickets are already at a premium.

And the small town (population 4,220) of Dyersville is already gearing up for what is likely to be its biggest year since the movie came out in 1989.

The game itself will involve the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox, and will be played on August 13, 2020. And it’s easy to believe the 8,000 seats in the stadium are going to be in high demand. Reports indicate the Dyersville Chamber of Commerce has been getting nonstop calls about the game.

Construction of the temporary ballpark on the “Field of Dreams” site was slated to begin in mid-August, KCRG reports. And members of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) are involved.

Adjacent to the original Field of Dreams, a new stadium and playing surface will be constructed from scratch to ensure MLB standards are met. In total, 17 acres of the cornfield will require grading to accommodate the infrastructure. The field will be a sand-based natural grass system with a complete underdrain system. A fully automatic irrigation system will also be installed to manage the bluegrass sodded field. 

BrightView will oversee the installation of new foul poles, bullpens, a batter’s eye and backstop net while BaAm will build the temporary seating, locker rooms, media and press box areas in conjunction with Populous.  The majority of the sitework and subbase system will be completed this fall. In the spring of 2020, USGA modified rootzone materials and sod will be added with an estimated completion date of mid-July.  Following the historic contest, the field will remain with fencing included.
 
Construction and maintenance of the field as well as site grading will be overseen by BrightView, the nation’s leading landscape services company and Major League Baseball’s sports turf consultant.  Each BrightView employee on the project is an STMA member. Nearly a dozen members of STMA will form the team responsible for ensuring the field upholds the standards of a typical MLB venue on game night. 
 
"Sports Field managers ensure safe playing fields where athletes at all levels can achieve their dreams day in and day out" says Kim Heck, CAE, CEO of STMA. “This will be an historic event and we are looking forward to working with our Iowa chapter to make it a great experience for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching from around the world."
 
"This is a very special project,” says Murray Cook, President of BrightView Sports Turf and past President of STMA. "Everything will be built from scratch; from the pitcher’s mound, to the outfield, to the entire ballpark itself. Being the first MLB game in Iowa, we are especially pleased to have many ‘Iowans’ on our construction and maintenance teams to assist with the project.”
 
Next year’s Field of Dreams game is the latest venture between BrightView and MLB. BrightView’s’ team maintained and prepared the playing surface for the London Series between the Yankees and Red Sox earlier this season. 

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Tags:  American Sports Builders Association  ASBA  Baseball  baseball diamonds  baseball fields  baseball stadium  Certified Field Builders  field builders  Field of Dreams  fields book  Fields Division  Iowa  Major League Baseball  MLB  Sports Fields: A Construction and Maintenance Manu 

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Can a Baseball Game in England Lead to Growth of Fields There?

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 30, 2019

Last month, the all-American Pastime has crossed the pond – at least briefly. How did it do? And does it herald the growth of baseball facilities there?

Well…not quite.

Yes, the game was quite a hit – but then again, it’s (ahem) a whole new ballgame over there. And the novelty factor was a big help. According to the Associated Press, 70 percent of the tickets for the Yankees-Red Sox games were sold in Britain, with the remaining 30 percent sold in the United States. Red Sox season-ticket holders purchased an average of 5,831 seats per game and Yankees fans picked up 4,752 tickets during the presale.

All pretty awesome, but what does it mean?

Maybe…not much. Wikipedia tells us baseball is a minor sport in England, with about only 3,000 participants. Additionally, that source notes, “the sport is governed by the British Baseball Federation, which runs a multi-tier national league. The national team has taken part in international competitions. There are also independent regional leagues, and about 20 universities field teams. The sole purpose-built facility in the UK is at Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire. There is also a youth baseball academy.”

In fact, the biggest impediment to the sport’s growth in England (other than a widespread lack of interest in the game, since it doesn’t receive much coverage) seems to be a lack of facilities. And that might keep exhibition games from the MLB to a minimum.

When asked why he did not think the game had a future abroad, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred cited as one reason the challenge of finding stadiums that would work for baseball without having heavy alterations or reconstruction. “Playing in Europe presents some challenges that the NFL doesn’t have,’’ he said – a reference to the fact that NFL games have been contested in England. “It’s a lot easier for them to play inside soccer stadiums. It’s virtually impossible for us.’’

The bat and ball sport of cricket is far more popular in England than baseball; in fact, the only other sport comparable to baseball in terms of rules is a game known as “rounders,” which is popular among schoolchildren (particularly girls), although it is contested on the international level.

The fact that baseball (and softball for that matter) were picked up for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and dropped from the 2024 Games in Paris also will not do much to light a fire in the hearts of the world. But it’s likely the sports will be picked up for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. Whether the sports will be featured in Olympics beyond that point is unknown and will depend upon the host city’s preferences. While it’s far too early for a host to be picked for 2032, for example, a multitude of cities threw their hats into the ring already; a list of prospective hosts can be found here.

MLB, for its part, seems to be setting its sights on developing the sport in other countries. According to Baseball America, MLB, having worked hard to develop a following in China, has now set its sights on India.

Jim Small, MLB senior vice president of international business, believes the popularity of cricket is a point that will play in baseball’s favor. In addition, he notes, among the potential market of a population of more than 1 billion people, 90 percent have a connected device in their hands. The strong possibility that a player could make the major leagues means that the population could stream games – and find them understandable and relatable.

“There are very few sports played above the waist,” Small told Baseball America. “And when we go and see the people that we’re supporting in baseball there, we see tremendous athletes who can throw and catch and hit. They may not have played a lot of baseball. They may have used the wrong foot to touch the base when they turn a double play, but they have the ability to throw a laser beam to first base. And that’s a really attractive thing.”

Side note: Trying to tell a lifelong cricket player they’re using the wrong foot to touch the base in a strange new game is easier said than done – and could come off very wrong. But if baseball can manage to take off in India, it could continue its growth as MLB intends. 

Tags:  Baseball  baseball diamonds  baseball fields  baseball in England  baseball in Europe  baseball in the Olympics  baseball stadium  baseball worldwide  Major League Baseball  MLB  softball diamonds  softball fields  softball in the Olympics  softball stadiums  softball worldwide 

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