Thursday, July 26, 2012

Field of Seams

You don't get to see this very often.  The field at M&T Bank Stadium getting watered. 

In fact, you may blink and wonder if indeed that's Nicole Sherry observing the action.  It is.  Nicole, the Orioles head groundskeeper for several years, came by for a visit and check out how the field was coming together.

(At this point, it's still a field.  It hasn't been transformed to a soccer pitch yet.)

The bluegrass (Nicole recognized it immediately) arrived in truckloads from its home in New Jersey.  Tuckahoe Turf Farms are the turf tycoons of the majors.  In fact, that's how Nicole knows both them and their bluegrass -- it's what she uses.

Tuckahoe must be awfully busy, because they are also furnishing Fenway with fescue for their soccer match.  Their infield needs patching for the pitch.  Not as big as this job, but some tricky angles to accommodate. 

Of course, preparing the pitch isn't the only preparation for the big match on Saturday.  Part of having the stadium ready is a good steam cleaning, which you can see here.    Everything should be sparkling when the rooters arrive.

With just two days left, it's time to groom the new field.  This is Martin Volz, a student in the Sports Turf Management program at Michigan State. 

(Yes, that's a discipline within agricultural science.  Remember, Nicole is an agronomist by education, too.  Nutrition, growth, and cultivation are just as important as grooming.)

Martin is sanding the seams.  That bucket contains very fine porous granuals that fill in the potholes and provide a medium for meshing the roots.

After the sanding, the turf will be watered again.  When it has dried, it will be mowed.  It has to be shorn to a specific length for regulation soccer, so they don't want it to grow back before the game.

And yes, the painted lines will have to be touched up after the shave.

Before leaving M&T Bank Stadium, we took a quick look at some of the other preparations for Saturday.

Here is the beautiful, recently completed patio deck in the corporate village.  The recycled brick is as sturdy as it is attractive and it is ready for one of the many groups attending the match. 

There is another patio just like this one closer to Russell Street.  We are eager to see how much better they work with the heavy traffic they have to tolerate on game day.

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