By Amanda Whitaker / For The Sporting Nation
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Dodgers and White Sox fans and players have something to get excited about come next spring training. Camelback Ranch has recently renovated both the fields for the main stadium and the Los Angeles replica practice field also known as Field 1.
These renovations will provide a new foundation beneath the grass and keep the field at a professional level so players can stay safe. This means a more leveled-out playing field with new sod, grass and dirt. Field 1 will only be receiving a replacement of grass and clay.
“The purpose of the new field is to get it back into playing shape,” said Juan Rodriguez, manager of baseball operations at Camelback Ranch. Because the fields are used for numerous activities throughout the year such as spring training, AZL and instructional league, to name a few, “the fields take a beating,” Rodriguez said.
“The general guidelines are every seven to 10 years a field should be renovated and we’re at that point now,” says Joe Fitzgerald, superintendent of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, said.
All of the fields at Camelback Ranch use real grass with a sand base. “Over time that sand becomes contaminated with an organic layer,” said Fitzgerald. This organic layer prevents water from draining properly and fertilizer and oxygen from getting to the roots of the grass.
According to the Greenfields (a sports construction company) website, there have been technological advances in artificial turf and better drainage compared to real grass, but all of the fields at Camelback Ranch will continue to utilize real grass. All but two fields in major league baseball contain real grass.
Rodriguez said the renovation process of the fields requires a company to come in, remove all the sod and start from scratch to keep everything level.
“It’s always nice and exciting to be able to play on a brand new field. Everything is leveled out so there’s no divots or slopes that you have to deal with. It makes playing the game easier,” said Dodgers minor-leaguer Kevin Brown in a text. Brown, a pitcher, is currently playing with their Rancho Cucamonga affiliate team.
The dimensions of both fields will remain the same as well as seating and the rest of the stadium. Only the playing areas have been renovated. However, other projects could be undertaken within the stadium but “they are not related,” said Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald has put a lot of work and focus into the new fields and showed excitement for the completion of the renovations. "It’s a lot of extra on our plate but the end result is definitely a good thing,” he said.
“It’s one of those things that we saw it get ripped up, it used to just be a big patch of dirt. The guys are excited about it ... and once the lights come on and they see the beautiful field that they get to play on it’s pretty fun to watch them get out there and get going,” Rodriguez said. Night games will begin June 20th for the short-season rookie ball.
The renovation costs are not expected to impact ticket prices in 2017.