When the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees meet at London Stadium next month, they will play their two-game series on synthetic turf.
Set to take place June 29-30, the Red Sox-Yankees series will be played at London Stadium, which was originally built for the 2012 Olympics and has since become home to the Premier League’s West Ham United. Preparation for the series will take place on a somewhat tight schedule, as MLB will have access to the venue for 21 days leading up to the series and a five-day window to clear out after its conclusion. Given the time constraints, the league has opted to go with a synthetic turf playing surface.
Beginning on June 6, gravel will be placed over the covering that shields London Stadium’s soccer pitch and the facility’s running track, with the turf to be placed atop the gravel. For their part, the players do not seem to mind that arrangement, while the surface is also viewed as a more sustainable option that installing natural grass for the series. More from the AP:
“It’s the first Yankees-Red Sox game out of the country, so why not a lot of firsts?” New York pitcher CC Sabathia said. “I think it will be fine.”
Instead, 141,913 square feet of FieldTurf Vertex will be transported by truck starting June 4 from the company’s plant in Auchel, France, a little over 150 miles (240 kilometers) to a storage facility outside London, according to Murray Cook, the sport’s field consultant.
Clay for the pitcher’s mound and home plate area comes from DuraEdge in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Turface Athletics near Chicago provides the soil conditioner, while mound tamps, infield drags and nail drags are from Beacon Athletics in Middleton, Wisconsin. The U.S. materials, including 345 tons of dirt in 18 40-foot containers, left Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, during the third week of April and arrived on May 18 at Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) from London. Fence padding was manufactured at Covermaster outside Toronto and shipped from Montreal.
“We looked really hard at doing a natural grass system,” Cook said. “We’re going with a synthetic system and it helps us a couple ways. It’s a little more sustainable, because we’re going back next year. If we went with a natural grass system, we’d have to bulldoze it all up, throw it away and then buy it again, build it all up, throw it away again.”
Although there are only three active teams that play home games on turf, it is worth noting that two–the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays–play in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox, so both teams are familiar with synthetic surfaces. The Arizona Diamondbacks are the other active MLB team using a synthetic playing field in 2019, and the Texas Rangers have already announced that they will install a Shaw Sports Turf-manufactured B1K system at the retractable-roof Globe Life Field when it opens in 2020.
The upcoming series between the Red Sox and Yankees in London will mark MLB’s first ever games in Europe. A 2020 series will also take place at London Stadium, though the matchup for those games has not been announced by the league.
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