The 'big thaw' is underway at Fifth Third Field, to help prepare the playing surface for Mud Hens Opening Day on April 4. Because of mother nature's wintry wrath there's a layer of ice roughly 16 inches deep on the field, and Sports Turf Manager Jake Tyler is taking an unusual step to try to get that ice melted away.
Jake and his grounds crew have created a temporary 'hot zone dome' by using the rain tarp, putting snow around the edges and then using heaters to pump heat underneath the tarp. The heaters are pumping an estimated one million BTU's inside the temporary dome, which is cranking up the heat to around 70-72 degrees inside. The focus, initially, is on the infield portion of the field, but the dome will be moved to other portions of the field over the next week.
Tyler says normally in early March they're cutting the grass. This year, with all the snow and cold temperatures, he's being forced to start the thawing process himself so that he can finally begin to work on the grass. Melting as much of that ice away as possible now will help when the weather warms up so they'll be able to get the playing surface in tip-top shape when the Mud Hens open the 2014 season on Friday, April 4 at 4 p.m.
This year's Mud Hens Opening Day is extra special, because it'll be followed by hockey action at the Huntington Center, as the Toledo Walleye play a home game at 7:15 p.m. Fans can get 'Opening Day Doubleheader' ticket packages for just $25 that provide access to both games on this historic day. Call 419-725-4367 to order or get 'em online.