SBD/September 23, 2013/Facilities

Timing Is Everything: Cardinals' Turf Damaged By Football Game As MLB Postseason Nears

Cardinals execs believe the damage will be fixed before their next game
Saturday's Southeast Missouri State-Southern Illinois college football game at Busch Stadium caused "significant wear and tear in the outfield," leaving the stadium's grounds crew with "about 48 hours to return the field to normal baseball conditions" for tonight's Nationals-Cardinals game, according to Langosch & Thornburg of MLB.com. Cardinals VP/Event Services & Merchandising Vicki Bryant said, "We certainly expected that there would be a lot of damage, and we were prepared for it." Langosch & Thornburg reported Busch Stadium grounds crews "began by removing the goalposts and tearing up the sod along the middle of the football field, which was oriented across the outfield to avoid removing the mound and minimize damage to the infield." Cardinals Senior VP & GM John Mozeliak said that he would "reserve commenting on possible field problems until he sees the condition in a few days" (MLB.com, 9/22). In St. Louis, Joe Strauss noted the Cardinals have "successfully hosted" concerts and other sporting events in the past during baseball season, "always allowing at least a four-day buffer" between the event and the next Cardinals game. But Saturday's football game created "a blighted surface with less than 48 hours to fix it." Rainy conditions on Thursday and Friday "followed an extended smoldering and dry period that had left the outfield a slip-and-slide zone." Conditions were "dicey enough that the Cardinals and the two schools discussed cancelling" the football game. Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said, "There was an option to cancel the game. It turns out a majority field replacement is required. But the thick cut sod you have will likely perform better for us than what was there already." But Strauss asked, "Isn't there some corner within the organization where hosting a football event in November makes more sense than two days before the regular season's final home stand?" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/23).
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