L.A. Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks Back New-Look Sydney Cricket Ground
There was "no doubt" the Sydney Cricket Ground "looked a picture as a ball park," but on Tuesday it "was given the ultimate stamp of approval" by players of MLB clubs L.A. Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, according to Michael Chammas of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. After checking out the SCG's "incredible transformation," which "has been likened to the Oakland Coliseum," both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks "were drawn to the iconic members' stand." However, the "hallowed turf will provide a unique experience" when games get underway on Thursday when Team Australia take on the Dodgers in an exhibition game. The center square, which only a few months ago played host to Australia's Ashes series against England, "raised a few alarm bells." Diamondbacks outfield coach Dave McKay said, "It's a little hard there." Arizona Assistant to the GM Craig Shipley said, "What an incredible transformation from a cricket field to a baseball stadium, it's outstanding" (SMH, 3/18).
MAKING THE FIELD: In Sydney, Carly Adno reported the biggest challenge "was importing 250 tonnes of San Diego clay to create the infield and pitcher’s mound." Sydney sports promoter Jason Moore said, “We had about five soil technicians work for about 10 months trying to do the mix here because we didn’t want to bring anything in from overseas. Unfortunately our geology is different and we just couldn’t do it, so we had to bite the bullet last year and order ... bags of clay. These are real games. You can’t muck around. Batting averages count, pitching averages count -- this is what guys will win and lose careers on." Moore put up the A$2M ($1.8M) to convert the field and admits his financial advisers “aren’t real thrilled with me at the moment’’ (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/18). For a time lapse video of the venue's conversion, click here (MLB).