Evergreen Radiant gives Comerica Park new sod a boost
The NHL’s 2014 Winter Classic had its share of challenges. Not only was the game postponed for a year due to the 2012-13 NHL lockout, but the event had to be divided between two different locations — Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor and Comerica Park in Detroit.
The outdoor game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings, held on Jan. 1, 2014 in Ann Arbor, was a huge success and set a new NHL attendance record. The rest of the Hockeytown Winter Festival events, including two alumni games and an AHL matchup, took place on a temporary rink set up at Comerica Park. “They basically built an outdoor rink on the baseball field,” said Gerry Hackett, Covermaster’s Midwest Regional Representative.
One of the biggest concerns was the replacement of damaged turf, though costs would be covered by the NHL. Instead of building the rink over the grass, the surface was stripped out in November 2013 and replaced with a geotextile fabric, Gerry said. That did two things: it provided protection for the naturally exposed root zone and prevented contaminants from rink construction from getting into the soil.
But when it came time to get ready for the 2014 baseball season, a particularly harsh winter and heavy snow load made preparations difficult. That’s when Comerica Park head groundskeeper Heather Nabozny decided to order Evergreen Radiant turf blankets to shield thousands of pounds of Colorado-grown Kentucky bluegrass from the lingering winter temperatures. After clearing and grading the field, the thick-cut sod was laid and covered with 120,000 square feet of the turf covers, which would encourage fast germination and eliminate an entire growing period, Gerry said.
“Evergreen helped accelerate the rate at which it took,” he added, which was a plus since opening day was only about a week away.
When the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals met up on March 31, it was hard to believe that snow and bare ground had covered the surface just a couple of weeks earlier. It took a team effort, Gerry said, to ensure that the sod was laid and protected by a turf blanket in time for one of the most anticipated days in Major League Baseball.