JOLIET – City officials said Wednesday they are confident that artificial turf will be installed before the Joliet Slammers’ home opener May 15.
City staff met with contractors and a representative from the Slammers at Joliet Route 66 Stadium on Wednesday to review a drainage problem detected last week when there was standing water on the gravel surface that will be used as the base for the turf.
Public Works Administrator Greg Ruddy said the conclusion was that the standing water was due to cold temperatures and not a drainage problem that could persist into the future.
“We believe that what we experienced was weather related because of the cold weather we’ve had,” Ruddy said.
Turf installation could begin by early next week depending on the weather, he said.
“Once they get started, it’s about a
two-week process,” Ruddy said. “We don’t think there will be an issue with that May 15 opening date.”
Turf installation at one point was set for March 5. But city officials have said the cold and wet weather lasting into early spring left the gravel base too wet for proper turf installation. Frozen underground conditions are believed to have caused the recent drainage problems.
The drainage issue was raised this week at meeting of the Joliet City Council Stadium Committee by Slammers owner Nick Semaca, who said it needed fixing.
Semaca said Wednesday that he would “take comfort that all the experts are aligned.”
“It looks like full-speed ahead,” Semaca said.
The drainage issue was first raised by representatives from FieldTurf, the company that will install the turf, Semaca said.
Ruddy said a FieldTurf representative was consulted by phone during the Wednesday meeting but was not at the stadium. Representatives from Wight & Company, the general contractor on the job, and Hoppy’s Landscaping, the company that put in the gravel base, were there, he said.
The city put out a news release Wednesday stating the project was on schedule for opening day. The release said the gravel base had been tested to ensure that the right materials were used.
Excavation for the project started in September with hopes that the turf could be installed before the winter, although the city said then that it was likely installation would not start until late February or early March.
The delays so far have caused the University of St. Francis baseball team, which typically plays home games at the stadium, to move games to Joliet Junior College and Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.