The Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League) are replacing the playing surface at Riley Park, where the ballpark’s site presents some unique challenges.
Riley Park is situated on the banks of the Ashley River in downtown Charleston, on a site that was used for a city dump for much of its history. The dump closed in 1970 over environmental concerns, and it would be another 27 years before the ballpark opened.
The ballpark has remained a viable facility over its years of use, but one of the challenges that its site presents is that there is no structural foundation underneath the playing surface. As a result, the RiverDogs and City of Charleston–which owns Riley Park–have to monitor the field to check for sinkholes and replace the playing surface as needed. The RiverDogs have been undertaken their latest playing surface replacement this offseason, marking the third such project in Riley Park history and the first since 2012. More from The Post and Courier:
“Everyone knows the challenges of having the field where it is and how it was built,” said Dave Echols, president of the RiverDogs, a member of the Class A South Atlantic League.
There’s no exact schedule for when work needs to be done, said Ed Boinest, the city’s senior project manager for the construction project. The stadium field sinks a little every year because there’s no structural foundation underneath, he said.
So every few years, when sinkholes start popping up and the drainage pipes start cracking, ballpark and city officials know it’s time for a makeover.
“It’s just sediment down there, so it’s basically like starting from scratch when we have to do this,” Boinest said.
It is worth noting that the RiverDogs have consistently been recognized as having one of the South Atlantic League’s best playing surfaces, winning the circuit’s Best Playing Field Award on five separate occasions (2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017). The RiverDogs do not play their 2019 home opener until April 11, but Riley Park’s baseball season will begin on February 15 for The Citadel’s first game. The playing surface replacement is expected to be completed in time for that game.