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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old February 2nd, 2005, 18:21 Thread Starter
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SkyDome to get FieldTurf

'SkyDome' is out
Renamed to Rogers Centre

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Baseball/M...918097-cp.html

The Blue Jays have renamed the SkyDome to Rogers Centre, after the stadium was bought by Rogers Communications from Sportsco International late last year.


(CP File Photo/Scott Macdonald)

TORONTO (CP) - SkyDome is getting a facelift with new scoreboards, new playing surface and a new name - Rogers Centre.

Owner Ted Rogers also pledged more money for players - $210 million US over three years.

"That represents about a 40 per cent increase on the payroll in the past year," the communications mogul told a news conference Wednesday.

The Jays finished with a 67-94 record last season, bottom of the American League East, a division ruled by big-spending Boston and the New York Yankees.

"We have the resources now to go out and do some things that we would like to do," said GM J.P. Ricciardi. "We're going to take it and look at all the avenues available to us going forward."

The 16-year-old domed stadium's original name came from a fan competition.

Rogers Communications spent just $25 million Cdn to buy SkyDome from Sportsco International, a Chicago-based group of investors, late last year. It was a fraction of the $580 million the stadium cost to build.

But the aging 50,000-seat stadium had steadily gone down in price since opening in 1989. It sold for $151 million in 1994 and Sportsco paid $80 million when it bought SkyDome out of bankruptcy court in April 1999.

"We pledge to you all our fans that we will investigate any and all ideas that will improve this building and the fan experience," Jays president Paul Godfrey said Wednesday.

The stadium will also receive several upgrades, including new video scoreboards to replace the aging JumboTron and a new playing surface designed by the Montreal-based FieldTurf Inc, replacing the rock-hard artificial turf.

The main screen will be the same size as before: 33 feet high by 110 feet wide (10 by 33 1/2 metres). Two other screens, 10 by 65 feet (three by 19.8 metres) will also be installed.

"No longer will the Blue Jays be the only team in major league baseball to play on AstroTurf," Godfrey said.

Instead a new FieldTurf surface will be installed.

"This is our start, but by no means is it our finish," Godfrey said, saying the baseball-friendly stadium makeover will continue.

When SkyDome opened in June 1989, it was the envy of the baseball world - a state-of-the-art facility that continually packed in more than 50,000 fans a game. The Jays broke baseball records with more than four million fans per season in '91, '92 and '93.

Last season the Jays drew 23,455 per game, its highest average in five years.

As it turns out, SkyDome was among the last of its kind. Baseball moved back to more traditional-looking stadiums - such as Camden Yards in Baltimore, Jacobs Field in Cleveland and The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas - and multipurpose facilities gave way to specialty stadiums.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old February 2nd, 2005, 18:52
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Terrible name change. Seriously, the Rogers Centre? Please!! It should be the Rogers SkyDome or Field at least! The other improvements sound good though especially the natural grass turf.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old February 2nd, 2005, 19:03 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ::Ambis::
Terrible name change. Seriously, the Rogers Centre? Please!! It should be the Rogers SkyDome or Field at least! The other improvements sound good though especially the natural grass turf.
It's not turf. It's FieldTurf, an artificial infill surface approved by FIFA. You couldn't grow grass properly in there. I just wonder what will happen with trade shows as FieldTurf cannot be rolled up after use. Maybe it will be a tray system like the Big Owe in Montreal.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old February 2nd, 2005, 19:07
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Yes the same stuff they have at Ford Field i think its great because it looks like real grass and its soft so there will be less injuries.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old February 2nd, 2005, 19:46 Thread Starter
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Tray system for SkyDome

Further to what was posted above, I found an article that confirms that they are looking at a removeable tray system. Pretty costly. The one made for Montreal's Big Owe was kind of given away in a sweet deal as an experimental one-off job. Looks like FieldTurf may be trying to expand this tray system venture.

*****************************
Rogers that
Renaming of 'Dome expected
By PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Baseball/M...02/917971.html

Toronto Blue Jays owners Rogers Communications will rename the stadium.

The new owner of the SkyDome is about to give its field of dreams a new name and a whole new look.

Rogers Communications will announce today the home of the Blue Jays will be re-christened, most likely as Rogers Field.

It is similar to the moniker used by the now-defunct Toronto Phantoms of the Arena Football League, a team partly owned by Rogers, when they played at the Air Canada Centre.

While there had been speculation Rogers might sell off the naming rights to the stadium to recoup some of the $25 million or so it spent to buy SkyDome from Sportsco, a source said it made more sense to use the company name because it will apply to other events at the venue.

Removing the name SkyDome will signify a new era for the building, which has lost its modern lustre and appeal.

The once-popular JumboTron will be replaced by a state-of-the-art, wraparound scoreboard.

And the synthetic turf will be moved out in favour of the popular FieldTurf ersatz grass surface at a cost of just under $2 million. The turf, which is manufactured by a Montreal-based company, can be moved around on individual pallets and refigured for other events, such as football. It will be different than the surface installed last year by the Argos.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old February 4th, 2005, 00:37
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Will this surface be FIFA-approved?
----
I can't believe Rogers was so egotistical as to rename the building like that. All the money spent in the past on promotion and building goodwill in the Skydome name has been thrown away.

Now someone else will grab the Skydome name for their domed stadium, and they won't have to pay Rogers a cent for the privilege.

Not only that, but when Rogers sells the building to someone else (as they inevitably will some day), the buyer won't pay them a red cent for the value of the goodwill in the Rogers name, because the name will inevitably be changed again once Rogers is no longer the owner.

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old February 4th, 2005, 06:39 Thread Starter
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Will this surface be FIFA-approved?
----
I can't believe Rogers was so egotistical as to rename the building like that. All the money spent in the past on promotion and building goodwill in the Skydome name has been thrown away.

Now someone else will grab the Skydome name for their domed stadium, and they won't have to pay Rogers a cent for the privilege.

Not only that, but when Rogers sells the building to someone else (as they inevitably will some day), the buyer won't pay them a red cent for the value of the goodwill in the Rogers name, because the name will inevitably be changed again once Rogers is no longer the owner.

Don't know about FIFA approval as fields are approved on an individual basis but there won't be football lines. I'd be interested to see how they would go from a baseball to soccer setup. I guess what they are looking at is removing the FieldTurf trays and for the next two seasons having the Argos put down their GameDay Turf over the cement.

As for the name change if you look at the rationale behind it, it is a good idea. SkyDome has become know as an 80's dank cement multisport monolith. It was the last of its era before the purpose built stadiums such as Camden Yards. The new owners are trying to rebrand the facility and the negative connotations it now has. It is funny that such a world leading facility could fall from grace so quickly in the public eye but it is no longer state of the art.

As for the buildings worth, it has depreciated to the point of almost no value (25 million purchase price from 600? million) and the cost of upkeep is huge. I doubt there will be another owner.

Stadium naming revenue has dropped severely so why not get your own name out there.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old February 4th, 2005, 17:06 Thread Starter
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Interesting Development

Re: above post. Argos and Jays will be sharing FieldTurf. This should be interesting and have an effect on soccer. How will they have football lines for the Argos and get rid of them for the Jays?

Argos play the field
New surface fine by Sokolowski
By PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Football/C...04/920538.html

Toronto's SkyDome, renamed the Rogers Centre earlier this week, will upgrade their surface to FieldTurf. (CP File Photo/Scott Macdonald)

It will be out with the new turf and in with the even newer turf.

Following meetings yesterday between the Argos and Rogers Communications, both parties agreed that the new FieldTurf surface to be used by the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre will be reconfigured for Argos games.

FieldTurf will replace the previous surface the Argos bought last year to replace the outdated 15-year-old floor.

"FieldTurf allows for a better flexibility instead of us putting in our own turf which we used last year," Argos co-owner Howard Sokolowski said. "Because the FieldTurf will be there already, there will be a shorter conversion time.

"We have a very good relationship with the Blue Jays and it would be our pleasure to hopefully one day host a Grey Cup game at the (Rogers Centre) in the not-too-distant future. That would be our wish anyway."

There have been rumours for some time Sokolowski and his partner David Cynamon will attempt to acquire the rights to either the 2007 or '08 Grey Cup. Sokolowski and Cynamon still plan to go ahead with plans to build a stadium for the Argos at York University in time for the 2007 season. Playing regular-season games there and shifting the Grey Cup to the Rogers Centre would be akin to what the Montreal Alouettes have done with Molson Stadium and Olympic Stadium.

Sokolowski also said that Rogers Communications is trying to help the Argos avoid the scheduling problems they had last year with the previous stadium landlord.

"Frankly, if the Blue Jays didn't own Rogers Centre, we'd have a terrible schedule," Sokolowski said. "It's only through their co-operation that we're able to improve our schedule measurably. Instead of playing Wednesday games for example we'll play more weekend games."

The 2005 Canadian Football League schedule has been in limbo because of the Argos and their inability to finalize dates. That's expected to be resolved and allow for the CFL schedule to be unveiled early next week and feature the Argos opening at home on June 25 against the B.C. Lions in a rematch of the 2004 Grey Cup.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

The rumour du jour is that if the Hamilton Tiger-Cats make a push to acquire the top pick from the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL draft in April, they will send offensive lineman Pascal Cheron and their own pick ... TSN is reportedly interested in rehiring deposed Calgary head coach Matt Dunigan as an analyst.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old February 5th, 2005, 00:50
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Originally Posted by Joe MacCarthy
As for the name change if you look at the rationale behind it, it is a good idea. SkyDome has become know as an 80's dank cement multisport monolith. It was the last of its era before the purpose built stadiums such as Camden Yards. The new owners are trying to rebrand the facility and the negative connotations it now has. It is funny that such a world leading facility could fall from grace so quickly in the public eye but it is no longer state of the art.

As for the buildings worth, it has depreciated to the point of almost no value (25 million purchase price from 600? million) and the cost of upkeep is huge. I doubt there will be another owner.

Stadium naming revenue has dropped severely so why not get your own name out there.
The so-called Rogers Centre is not going to be any less of a 1980's dank cement monolith than the Skydome was, and with the new scoreboard replacing the Jumbotron, the fan's experience will become even more of an electronic assault of video, aggressive advertising and loud music, and even less like a day at the ball park than it already has become. The food will continue to be lousy and overpriced, parking will continue to be a nightmare, and public transit will still be a long walk away.

The building has not depreciated in value excessively: Its initial cost was far beyond its real value, and the taxpayers paid the price of that boondoggle. The $25 million Rogers paid for it was a steal.

The cost of upkeep is not outrageous compared to the potential revenue from ticket sales. It's the declining sales, not increasing costs, that has skewed the economics of the place.

The entire project was ill-conceived from the beginning. Along with Hwy 407, another thing we have to thank the Tory government for.

I particularly enjoyed this letter to the editor in today's Globe and Mail:

Quote:
By JONATHAN BISHOP

SkyDome has been sold, fair enough. Good news for the Jays I suppose. But as far as I'm concerned, that dump is still SkyDome. Ted Rogers can call it his mammy if he wants to, but he hasn't paid enough to tell me what I should call it (Rogers Plays Name Game With SkyDome -- Feb. 3).

We paid nearly $600-million for that stadium; boondoggles like that should not be swept under the rug. The name ''SkyDome'' should live on.

I call upon all taxpayers of Ontario to continue using the name SkyDome.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old February 5th, 2005, 04:46 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jeff
The so-called Rogers Centre is not going to be any less of a 1980's dank cement monolith than the Skydome was, and with the new scoreboard replacing the Jumbotron, the fan's experience will become even more of an electronic assault of video, aggressive advertising and loud music, and even less like a day at the ball park than it already has become. The food will continue to be lousy and overpriced, parking will continue to be a nightmare, and public transit will still be a long walk away.

The building has not depreciated in value excessively: Its initial cost was far beyond its real value, and the taxpayers paid the price of that boondoggle. The $25 million Rogers paid for it was a steal.

The cost of upkeep is not outrageous compared to the potential revenue from ticket sales. It's the declining sales, not increasing costs, that has skewed the economics of the place.

The entire project was ill-conceived from the beginning. Along with Hwy 407, another thing we have to thank the Tory government for.
Well, I can't argue with the first paragraph but things can be done with the interior design and layout to make it less cavernous and inhospitable. The Big Owe was able to get some extra mileage several years ago because of a fairly extensive reconfiguration and it sounds like that is what Rogers is looking at.

As for not depreciating in value consider this. It cost $580 million to build. It sold for $151 million in 1994 and Sportsco paid $80 million when it bought SkyDome out of bankruptcy court in 1999 and Rogers paid 25 million. That's not depreciating?

The price reflects the cash flow it can generate not what it cost to build. That's about as much as I could recall from my two years of university economics. Any Dal/King's grads out there.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say about potential revenue so I'll leave it for now. At first I thought we differed but on reading it again I think we agree.

The project was not ill conceived. When Bill Davis sat through the freezing rain at the Grey Cup (and in his mind made the decision) this was seen to be the future. Multi-purpose, retractable roof what's not to like? Then came purpose built buildings like Camden Yards with great sightlines and retro feel and the death knell for SkyDome started to toll.

I can see Rogers settling down for a few years making the best of it and then build a new ballpark and let the implosion on SkyDome do its thing.

Godfrey's dream is NFL and while I don't see it happening the only way the NFL will look at TO is an NFL only building with 20,000 more seats. Don't think Rogers' pockets are big enough for two new buildings and one new franchise.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old February 5th, 2005, 21:03
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As for not depreciating in value consider this. It cost $580 million to build. It sold for $151 million in 1994 and Sportsco paid $80 million when it bought SkyDome out of bankruptcy court in 1999 and Rogers paid 25 million. That's not depreciating?

The price reflects the cash flow it can generate not what it cost to build
I understand depreciation to mean the decline in actual value of the property over time. Actual value can mean the market value, but when you are dealing with a unique property and a limited buyers' market, the market value (the price a willing purchaser will pay for it) is not necessarily reflective of the true value. This is particularly true when you buy at distress sale prices from a Bankruptcy trustee.

The value to a purchaser is in fact often unrelated to the value of the building, but depends on the anticipated cash-flow or revenue from operating the building as a going concern. When the Skydome was built, the economics were based on inflated estimates of revenue going on into the indefinite future. (Remember the 99-year Skybox rentals?)

The cost of building it was way out of proportion to its value, so I don't regard $580 million as the starting point. And Rogers got it for a song. (Hell, the land alone is worth more than that.) So I don't believe the real depreciation is 25:580. More like 1:4. The building needs renovation, but it's nowhere near crumbling or being technologically obsolete, and if a suitable use can be found for it that will put bums in seats, it could be a gold mine for Rogers. I'm sure that's what they were thinking, anyway.

But that $580 million didn't just vanish into thin air. Every penny of it went into somebody's pocket. And came out of ours.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old February 7th, 2005, 03:41 Thread Starter
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Gotta agree with much of what you said and it looks like it hits closer to home if you are the one taking the hit (tax dollars). It is sad that a 20 year old building is perceived as "old hat" but such is the case when there was a run of new baseball stadiums being built in the new millenium.

Perhaps 20 years ago there were thoughts that haven't and won't come to pass for SkyDome (ie NFL) In Canada it will be the last of its kind. The only new construction I foresee are stadiums with seating capacity the size of Winnipeg's proposed stadium and smaller (>35,000). It wouldn't surprise me either in the next ten years to see the Jays looking for a new ballyard.

The whole Rogers' point is about perception. They want to spin a more positive perception about SkyDome or RogersLid just as Bob Young is trying to spin Ivor Wynne as Fenway Park (character, intimate, good sightlines, close to action)

Now back to the part that interests me and affects soccer. They are going to use a FieldTurf tray system. How are they going to get the football lines off for the few baseball lines; baseball and soccer having comparitively little in the way of field markings. (Paint?, Additional trays?)

If they can get this to work properly Kevan Pipe's worries for facilities are over. The teams who were reluctant to play on it (ie Holland in Ottawa) will have second thought because they will probably be able to get higher financial guarantees for off season tours in places like SkyDome, Big O, and eventually BC Place than they would in places like Kingston and Swangard. Add to this the eventual conversion of players and management who have an aversion to artificial surfaces.

So with that I bid Xtratime goodbye for awhile as I have spent far too much time posting to four boards and really have to scale back and spend some time on putting food on the table and clothes on the back. May also be turning over the reins of the Mother of all Canadians Abroad as well but in the meantime you can get the latest list at Net54
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old February 7th, 2012, 23:06 Thread Starter
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Jays consider going (real) green (Turf to be installed in Rogers' Centre?)

Jays consider going (real) green
Mike Cormack January 31, 2012

It's long been an eyesore to fans in the stands and to those watching at home on TV.

And now that they fear it might cost them the opportunity to land a premium free agent, the Toronto Blue Jays say they are seriously considering rolling up the Astroturf and installing a grass field at Rogers Centre.

The surprising revelation came from team president and CEO Paul Beeston in response to a question from a season-ticket holder during Monday's state of the franchise event at Rogers Centre.

It's long been held that a grass field could be not be sustained at Rogers Centre for the duration of a baseball season. Not so said Beeston.

"Grass can grow here. We've checked it out," he told a scrum of reporters moments after completing an hour-long Q&A session for fans along with general manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell. "The real issue that we have is we have other events (at Rogers Centre), not just the Argos, but the other events here."

Beeston added that there are fertilizers available strong enough to sustain a grass field for a baseball season, provided the field stays in place for the duration.

"If you made the decision that you were going to make it a baseball-only stadium and you were going to put grass down, the question being can you do it, the answer would be yes," said Beeston. "Theoretically and practically. It can be done."

The biggest current obstacle standing between the Blue Jays and a grass field appears to be the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, a Rogers Centre tenant for nine dates in 2011 between the start of the baseball season and the conclusion of the World Series.

The Argonauts current lease with the Rogers Centre is set to expire at the end of 2012, the same year their current five-year deal with the Buffalo Bills of the NFL ends.

There is talk that Rogers Centre owner, Rogers Communications, and the Bills may extend their partnership beyond 2012, but as long as future Bills games aren't held during the baseball season it should pose no threat to a grass field for the baseball season.

Rogers Centre is also scheduled to serve as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Pan American Games in July, 2015.

Earlier in the evening Anthopoulos acknowledged that this off-season the Jays had lost out on two free agents with whom they had offered more money and more years to. Later in his scrum with reporters, Anthopoulos refused to divulge the league the respective players will ply their trade in next summer, but he did concede the Blue Jays current playing surface is a non-starter for some free agents.

"There's certain players that just don't have any desire to play on (artificial) turf no matter what the dollars are," he explained. "At times it does affect things, it's a factor. It can pose a challenge at times, but I'm not one to make excuses. This is a place that when it was (artificial) turf, all the great players were willing to come here."

Still, Anthopoulos is a big proponent of rolling up the Astroturf for good.

"That's exciting, the fact that there's even a conversation about it," he said. "But again, that's a decision that's way above my pay grade. But from a selfish standpoint, I'd love to see it happen."

As CEO of not only the Blue Jays, but of Rogers Centre as well, Beeston knows the numbers better than anyone and he said he has an idea of how much a move to grass would cost. If that's the case it would appear then that the only decisions to be made now are whether Beeston wants to do it and whether Rogers is willing to bankroll the extra gardening supplies and potential lost revenue from other events.

In the meantime, Beeston and Anthopoulos said they can win on the (artificial) turf, even if it means missing out on the odd free agent.

"Carl Crawford wanted out of Tampa Bay because he didn't want to play on (artificial) turf anymore," Beeston said, referring to the playing artificial surface at Tampa's Tropicana field. "So there's a real live example. If we wanted Carl Crawford, Carl Crawford didn't really want us. Not because he didn't like Toronto, not because he didn't like John Farrell, not because he didn't like Alex Anthopoulos, not because he didn't like our money. He didn't want to play on (artificial) turf."

Beeston was then asked if he thinks a grass field is therefore imperative when pursuing elite free agents.

"It may well be," he said. "It may well be, (for) getting that premier, young free agent."

Anthopoulos said although he'd love to see his team play on grass at home, the playing surface won't be such an issue if the team is winning.

"If we're contending for a World Series each year, it's not going to be a problem," he said.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old February 7th, 2012, 23:08 Thread Starter
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Toronto Blue Jays search for supergrass to replace artificial turf in Rogers Centre
Stephanie Findlay Staff Reporter thestar.com Feb 03 2012

We can make Dolly and ask Siri but we cannot grow grass in the shade.

At the Rogers Centre, and just about every other big stadium, the grass won’t survive.

None of them work. Not the rugged Celebration Bermudagrass, the classic Kentucky bluegrass, or the resilient seashore paspalum.

The ballpark’s walls are too high, the sun can’t shine in.

Why then, did the Blue Jays team president and CEO Paul Beeston say the Rogers Centre could sustain plant life, exciting fans yearning for a lush green field and players tired of rug burn?

“Theoretically and practically, it can be done,” he told season ticket holders on Monday.

As it turns out, Beeston is kind of right. You can provide lights for the grass (to compensate for the shade) or invest in either a modular field or rail system (to move it away from the shade).

What you can’t do is simply grow the stuff.

Apparently, shade-grown grass is the athletic groundskeeper’s Holy Grail.

“This is the kind of thing I always tell the students on the first day,” said John Rogers, turf science professor at Michigan State University. “There’s no perfect grass for all situations. If there was I wouldn’t have a job.”

Since Astro Turf’s 1966 debut in the Houston Astrodome, real grass fell out of vogue, unable to withstand the traffic of a multi-purpose facility like the Rogers Centre, one just as likely to host an Argos game or Disney On Ice as it is a Jays game.

In the past decade, however, there has been a grass revival. Today, the Jays are just one of two teams in Major League Baseball, along with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, that continue to use, in the words of New York Times columnist Dave Anderson, a “chemist’s carpet.”

Earlier this week in Florida, the Miami Marlins installed a grass field for their ballpark, which has a retractable roof.

The retractable roof will remain open until opening day in order to get plenty of sun.

“They’re using a Bermuda called ‘Celebration,’ ” said George Toma, a veteran groundskeeper described as the world’s best.

“It takes the shade better than some of the other Bermudas.”

Toma, who has just turned 83, is readying the artificial turf at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis where he’s painting, brushing and putting in the crumb rubber for Sunday’s Super Bowl.

His fields, the natural kind, are made of coarse sand from American and Canadian riverbeds, peat from fields in Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Minnesota and the latest strain of supergrass.

“In the early days we only had three or four grasses: One or two bluegrass, one or two rye grass,” said Toma. “Now we have 100 varieties of bluegrass, 100 varieties of rye grass.”

Still, no amount of genetic manipulation has yielded a shade-resistant blade.

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, is one of the agronomy leaders in North America. It began working with turf grasses in the 1920s as a result of golf’s growing popularity.

Rutgers scientists represent a small group of breeders researching the top shade-resistant grasses, Kentucky bluegrasses, perennial rye grasses and tall and fine fescues.

“There’s early reports of this kind of work decades ago, but it hasn’t been until recently, the last 10 to 15 years, that you’ve seen more emphasis to develop techniques to study this,” said James Murphy, head of the turfgrass management research program.

“Now, a lot of our suburban and urban developments are getting pretty mature, the trees are getting much larger,” he said, “people are noticing shade problems now that they didn’t notice 20 years ago when their trees were much smaller.”

Yet there hasn’t been a breakthrough, so groundskeepers continue to find workarounds.

Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers, is heated below and serviced by lights, designed by a Dutch firm, which hang 2 metres above the grass and extend the growing season by months. The Houston Astros have a similar set-up.

“There’s new technology coming out now with these grow lights,” said Toma. “They’re mechanical, they’re self-propelled, they move through the night.”

Sadly for Jays fans, it’s unlikely such technology will be coming to Toronto soon.

“It would need a buy-in from the stadium people,” said Steve Schiedel, co-owner of Greenhorizons Group of Farms Ltd., a company hired by the Rogers Centre to temporarily sod the field for soccer matches.

Such an endorsement may be unlikely, says Schiedel, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming.

“I’d love to see the Jays play on real turf, natural turf,” he said, adding that “the turf type tall fescue is a little more shade tolerant and would work.”

In the meantime, scientists and groundskeepers alike continue their quest for grass that can grow in the shade.

“Every once in a while we’ll find something that looks like it’s done really, really well in a low light area,” said Rogers, the Michigan scientist, “but that’s because no one’s been stepping on it.”
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old January 29th, 2013, 18:36 Thread Starter
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In terms of cost, the grass is always greener for Blue Jays
ROBERT MacLEOD TORONTO - The Globe and Mail Jan. 27 2013

Since the Toronto Blue Jays landed speedy Jose Reyes in the mega-deal with the Miami Marlins, calls for the club to install real grass at Rogers Centre have intensified.

Team officials say they are sensitive to the pent-up demands of the fans and have every intention of eventually laying down sod. But the organization is now saying it will likely be at least five years before grass will replace artificial turf.

There are several hurdles that first have to be cleared, including the relocation of the Toronto Argonauts, who have been tenants in the building since it opened in 1989.

Until the Canadian Football League club, which has yet to sign a new lease at Rogers Centre, decides on a new home, Blue Jays president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston said the baseball team’s plans for a new natural field cannot move forward.

The baseball and football seasons of both teams overlap and in order to sustain a grass field the seats at Rogers Centre could not be reconfigured for football games without destroying a large portion of the surface.

“I guess at some point in time, we’re going to have to work with them, to tell them we’d like a baseball-only stadium,” Beeston told The Globe and Mail earlier this week. “That’s the only way it works for grass, and we clearly want grass.”

The last of the big, multi-purpose sports facilities to be built in North America, Rogers Centre is maligned by many for being an inhospitable baseball venue.

A number of seats have poor sightlines and the atmosphere within the cavernous facility, especially with the retractable roof pulled shut, is hardly what could be described as homey.

But as Beeston points out, 7:07 p.m. games start right at 7:07 p.m., no matter what extreme weather conditions might be raging outside at the downtown Toronto venue.

“It’s taken for granted and it’s maligned too often for me,” Beeston said. “For the amount of use that it gets, whether it’s Bruce Springsteen or the tractor pulls where we’ll get 40,000 people over two days, it gets good use because it’s got that roof.

“And the location is a pretty good location.”

Beeston and the Blue Jays understand that the installation of grass would be a huge aesthetic improvement for the aging facility, not to mention they would be following a trend in major-league baseball away from synthetic surfaces. Rogers Centre and Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, the home of the Rays, remain the only two facilities that don’t have grass laid down.

Not only does real grass look nicer but players enjoy playing on it better as it is a softer, more forgiving surface, and is easier on the legs and back.

That would be a boon for the likes of Reyes, whose great speed is one of his greatest assets and whose continued good health will be a key to the Blue Jays success in 2013.

But there are other impediments, other than the Argos, to putting in a grass surface.

“Specifically, the building has no drainage,” said Stephen Brooks, the Blue Jays’ senior vice-president of business operations. “It’s an indoor facility that can be opened as opposed to an outdoor facility that can be closed, if you can get the distinction.”

A concrete floor, which lies beneath the synthetic Astroturf carpet that the baseball team currently plays on, would have to be taken out. In its place some sort of a drainage system would have to be installed along with about 12 inches of soil upon which the grass sod would be placed.

Then there is the question of getting enough sunlight onto the grass surface to be able to sustain it.

“It won’t be easy, but it can be done,” Stephen Cockerham, the superintendent of agricultural operations at the University of California, Riverside, said in an interview. Cockerham is one of the leading experts in the development and use of grass at sports facilities. He was the team leader for the development of the playing field at Chase Field in Phoenix, the first retractable roof facility to install a grass surface.

It is one thing to be able to do that in the warm-weather climate of Arizona where the roof can be left open all the time. It’s another thing to pull it off in a seasonally-challenged northern climate.

Cockerham said there are certain strains of grass that are now being grown that do much better in areas where the sunlight is not that strong.

And should the sunlight be insufficient, there are large incandescent lighting systems available to provide a substitute.

“But it’s an expensive process for the lighting and then the associated energy costs,” he said.

Rogers Centre has been outfitted with grass before.

In July of 2012, a temporary grass surface was laid on the field when Liverpool came over to play Toronto FC in a soccer friendly at a cost to Rogers Centre of over $100,000.

The installation took about three days and was carried out by Compact Sod and Greenhorizons, whose business originated in Cambridge, Ont.

Steve Schiedel, vice-president of the company, getting grass to grow year-round at Rogers Centre would be challenging.

He was asked if he through it was possible.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It needs to be explored.”
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