JOLIET – City officials got a closer look Monday night at plans to make Slammers Stadium a more viable location for concerts and sports other than baseball.
The plans include changing the playing surface from dirt and natural grass to synthetic turf; moving an outfield wall to accommodate soccer and lacrosse; and a new irrigation system.
The biggest chunk of the estimated $1,889,922 project is the installation of synthetic turf, expected to cost about $792,355. Portions of the project are slated to go out to bid Tuesday and Thursday, with the city expected to award bids in early September.
Wight & Co. was hired in May as consultants and are serving as construction managers for the project. Vice President and Director of Land Development Byron Wyns presented the project to City Council, which had just a couple of questions about it Monday.
“These are our fun jobs, doing these sports fields,” Wyns said.
In addition to the popular FieldTurf Classic HD playing surface, Wight & Co. is recommending FieldTurf CoolPlay, which decreases the field temperature 20 to 30 degrees, Wyns said. Fields in the Southern states have been using CoolPlay for some time now, but the product is starting to pop up in the Midwest. Artificial turf can get up to 130 degrees in the summer, Wyns said.
With the intent to accommodate soccer and lacrosse, the outfield fence will have to be moved back and portable pitching mounds will be used.
But baseball field dimensions will be permanently striped on the field because it will remain the venue’s main use. There will be, however, marks on the turf for the grounds crew to install the temporary striping of soccer and lacrosse fields when needed.
In response to a question from council member John Gerl, Wyns said the useful life of the turf is 11 to 12 years in most cases. In many situations, the time before replacement depends on just how many events are held on the turf over the years. The turf has an eight-year warranty.
The contractor also is required to install replacements – up to three times each – at high-wear areas such as batter’s boxes, pitching mounds, bullpens, and first second and third base.
“That’s included in their price – that they will need to come back up to three times,” Wyns said.
The city plans on doing most of the transformation work in the fall. How much work remains for early 2018 depends largely on the weather.
The timeline for the project is as follows – award contract Sept. 5; start construction Sept. 19; substantial completion Nov. 30; final completion March 18.