“We are thrilled to partner with Mayor [Jeff] Fusco and the City of Akron to provide a new playing surface and much-needed improvements to the drainage and irrigation infrastructure,” said RubberDucks General Manager Jim Pfander in a press release. “I know our players and the Cleveland Indians player development team will enjoy a new, improved playing surface for 2016 and beyond.”
It is the first complete field renovation since Canal Park’s construction in 1996 and opening in 1997, and the renovation includes the first resurfacing of the playing field since 2007.
The tearing out and installation work is being performed by Seville-based AG Design, and Tuckahoe Turf from Hammonton, New Jersey, will be installing its Tuckahoe Big Roll sod, which is 100 percent Kentucky Blue Grass. The renovation began November 11, and the new turf is expected to be laid in place by the end of the week.
The field renovation includes:
- Removal of the existing turf and organic layer to reduce percolation issues
- Installation of a new Rain Bird Irrigation System
- 400 tons of root zone sand and 50 tons of infield material will be added and graded
- Reconstruction of bullpens, mounds, and batter’s boxes
- 100 tons of warning-track material will be added and be graded
- ACO Drains will be added to the warning track for improved field drainage
- Playing field will be graded and prepared for new sod
“We’ve made a number of improvements to Canal Park over the past few years, but this one is a re-investment in the facility that players, coaches, and on-field personnel will enjoy for a long time,” said Pfander.
“With the upcoming Eastern League All-Star Game, now is the perfect time to install a new irrigation system and add additional drainage,” said head groundskeeper Chris Walsh, who will oversee the project. “The Kentucky Blue Grass field should take root over the winter and be ready for Opening Night and the All-Star Game.”
Since Ken Babby took over the old Akron Aeros and installed Pfander as GM, Canal Park has been upgraded with new group and individual seating spaces, as well as new concession items every season. A new playing surface may not be the most glamorous of upgrades, but it’s one that will make things smoother both for players and the front office on a regular basis.