PRESS RELEASE – Less than a week after the conclusion of the 2016 season, the Lynchburg Hillcats began the initial stage of a series of renovations scheduled for City Stadium by starting to remove the current playing surface. The first of many changes to take place at the ballpark during the offseason, the Hillcats have hired Sports Contracting Group (SCG) to execute a complete overhaul of the field.
“One of the main initiatives between the City of Lynchburg and Elmore Sports Group when the organization purchased the Hillcats was investing significant resources into improving City Stadium, both for the players and the fans,” said Team President Chris Jones. “There are many projects planned throughout the winter to help achieve that, and redoing the field is the first one. We are pleased to be partnering with SCG to help in this first stage of upgrading City Stadium for the 2017 season.”
SCG, who built Jacobs Field when it was originally constructed for the 1994 season, has worked with approximately eight Major League Baseball teams and 20 Minor League Baseball organizations. It is currently completing a project at the Spring Training complex for the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. Furthermore, SCG has installed all of the synthetic fields for Liberty University.
The Ohio-based company will conduct a complete field renovation over the next two months. The undertaking will begin by removing the current surface all the way to subgrade dirt elevation. Once that occurs, SCG will start the process of installing a new drainage system, irrigation system, infield, warning track, and sod with a targeted completion date of mid-November.
“It’s a very fast track, very aggressive schedule. Obviously the objective is to get it installed before winter hits,” said Chris Franks, Executive VP of Construction Operations for SCG. “This will give the grass enough time to root and establish so that when the season comes around it’s in healthy shape for the season to start.”
After a season where fans witnessed 16 games delayed or postponed due to weather, including three rainouts and a suspended game in a single homestand, one noticeable difference will be the ability of the new surface to withstand heavy rain.
“The current field does not have an under-drain drainage system, and it’s one of the project’s key focus points,” said Franks. “We have a main collector going around the outfield arc, and we have trenched in lateral drains every 20 feet. Then we have a four-inch layer of gravel that goes above that as a bridge to a 10-inch layer of root stone sand. The root stone sand drains between 19 and 20 inches an hour, so you’re going to be able to take a significant storm and play on the field immediately afterward. That’s a big improvement compared to what it is now.”
Hillcats fans will have an opportunity once the project advances far enough to own some of the previous playing surface by bringing a jar or small container to City Stadium. More details, including specific dates when fans can visit the ballpark to take home some of the clay and sod, will be announced at a later time. Lynchburg will be recording a time-lapse video from behind home plate, which will be posted to the team’s website every Monday for fans to follow the progress of the renovation.