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Grass set to arrive tomorrow at Polar Park; site to transform from "A brownfield to a Greenfield"

October 26, 2020

Ballpark to Receive Fenway-like Sod Early Tuesday Morning; Ballfield to transform from clay and sand to grass and dirt.

Ballpark to Receive Fenway-like Sod Early Tuesday Morning;

Ballfield to transform from clay and sand to grass and dirt.

WORCESTER, MA – The diamond at Polar Park is scheduled to turn green tomorrow morning, Tuesday, October 27, when the first sod is laid on the infield of the future home of the Worcester Red Sox. Two trucks transporting the natural Kentucky Blue Grass, grown at Tuckahoe Turf Farms in Hammonton, New Jersey, are expected to pass through Kelley Square by 6:00 a.m. and arrive on Green Street in the heart of Worcester’s resurgent Canal District.

The unrolling of 80 strips, each 42 inches wide, is scheduled to begin at 7:00 a.m. under the supervision of Gilbane-Hunt, the joint venture responsible for the construction of Polar Park. Professionals from Sports Turf Specialties of Wrentham, MA, hope to complete the infield on the first day. STS will then lay the turf in foul territory and the outfield. The local company has also installed the sod at Fenway Park the past 17 years, since 2003. The Red Sox have used sod grown at Tuckahoe Turf Farms the past 15 years, since 2005.

“It was important for the Worcester Red Sox to play on the same type of grass as the Boston Red Sox,” said Red Sox Hall of Famer Larry Lucchino, the WooSox’ Chairman and Principal Owner. “While the nature of the ballpark site in Worcester dictated that Polar Park’s playing dimensions are different from Fenway Park’s, the two playing surfaces and conditions are similar by design. This element is useful in player development.”

The timing of the arrival of the sod is also by design.

“We wanted to lay the sod in autumn so that it can ‘take’ well and be ready for the spring,” said Matt McKinnon, longtime Field Superintendent for the Pawtucket Red Sox. “It was always supposed to be green by Halloween.”

While Mother Nature is doing her part with a possibility of rain this week to water the new grass, the sod will also benefit from an irrigation system and temporary water hook-up.

The first images of a baseball field emerged just over a month ago, when on Tuesday, September 22, sand, clay, and dirt were groomed to form a diamond. The field has appeared ever since in various shades of beige.

The green turf will rest atop a state-of-the-art sand and drainage system designed to eliminate postponements due to wet grounds and unplayable conditions, which plagued the Pawtucket Red Sox at McCoy Stadium for 50 years. The 78-year-old field was built atop wetlands with no modern drainage system. At Fenway Park, a new sand and drainage system was installed after

the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. The number of postponements has since reduced substantially.

“In essence, if it stops raining, we can play,” said Lucchino. “In Pawtucket, and years ago in Boston, fans were all too often disappointed to find that games were rained out, even though the rain had stopped and sometimes the sun was even shining. The fields just couldn’t bear the rainfall and became flooded. Technology has improved over the last 30 years.”

The modern irrigation and drainage system, pioneered at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, minimizes this problem. Camden Yards was created by Larry Lucchino and Janet Marie Smith, who are the leaders of the WooSox’ Polar Park design team.

An aerial view of Tuckahoe Turf Farms in Hammonton, New Jersey. Joe Jacobs/Worcester Red Sox

“This is another milestone in our journey to Opening Day at Polar Park,” said Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty. “Building in Gateway Cities like the City of Worcester is really rebuilding. This grass marks the literal transformation of a brownfield to a greenfield, and that is a healthy development for our city. I want to thank the City Council and the residents for their support of this project.”

“Laying the sod is not only a visual example of our progress on the ballpark, but an example of economic progress as well,” said Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus, Jr. “Local construction workers are performing these and many other tasks each day at Polar Park, and companies in our area are benefitting from these projects. It’s good news at a time when good news is especially welcome.”

“As a Massachusetts-based company that works at many major league facilities up and down the East Coast, we are honored to have the opportunity to work locally and build the new WooSox field,” said Dennis Brolin, President of Sports Turf Specialties. “It has been a pleasure working with a great team of Project Managers, Architects, and fellow Tradesmen. GO WOOSOX!”

The delivery of the sod takes place 16 years to the day that the Boston Red Sox won their historic World Championship in 2004. Ending 86 years of agony since their previous World Championship in 1918, they completed their sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals on October 27, 2004, after having been down 3 games to none to their archrival New York Yankees. They remain the only team in baseball to recover from such a deficit to win a postseason series. The club of course then won additional World Series in 2007, 2013, and 2018. The Red Sox have won more championships than any other baseball franchise this century, and all with the PawSox as their Triple-A affiliate.