WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After 13 championship baseball seasons and countless concerts, soccer matches, football games, and other special events, Raley Field finally got what it needed this offseason: a brand new playing surface.
While the field has been re-sodded a few times since its inaugural season in 2000, this full-scale makeover was the first time the entire playing surface has ever been replaced and the first time any major work has been done in six years.
Chris Shastid, Raley Field's new head groundskeeper, managed the 16-day project along with an outside consultant who has worked on AT & T Park, Dodger Stadium, Pebble Beach Golf Links, and Spyglass Hill Golf Course.
Shastid, who most recently worked as a groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles spring training home in Sarasota, Fla., joined the River Cats last September. The first major event on the field after he started was a two-day, rain-soaked monster truck event in November.
"After the monster truck event, I was eager to start working on the new field," Shastid said. "Our crew was excited to take on the project, and although it was challenging, we think both the players and fans will be thrilled with the end result."
Throughout the course of the 16 days, the crew began at sunrise and often worked late into the night under the Raley Field lights. They removed four inches of material from the two-and-a-half-acre field-87 truckloads in all, totaling more than 2,000 tons-including the root zone and organic matter. They also removed 250 tons of excess infield mix from the skin (the infield "dirt" area of the field).
Once the old field was removed, 100 tons of sand was brought in as a base, to help with drainage and the slope of the field. Then, 105,000 square feet of sod was added, and the pitcher's mound, home plate area, and infield skin were all rebuilt.
The turf itself is a blend of Bermuda and Rye grass, which allows the grass to grow in the cooler offseason months and still thrive throughout the warm summer season. The new field will be a welcome sight to River Cats players, coaches and fans alike, as everyone counts down to Opening Night, scheduled for April 4 at Raley Field.
"We can't wait to show off the new field to our fans," said Jeff Savage, general manager of the River Cats. "This full-scale field replacement was a large, in-depth project, and shows once again our continued pledge to reinvest resources in Raley Field."
Tickets for Opening Night-along with the entire 2013 season-are on sale now at Raley Field's Round Table Pizza Ticket Office, online at ticketmaster.com, and over the phone at (916) 371-HITS.