HOT SOURCES – As a very versatile park that will be heavily used, the new Majestic Park baseball complex is being built to accommodate just that as turf is being laid for the park’s fall opening. .
Turf was installed on the first court last Saturday and the other four courts will follow. Majestic Park General Manager Derek Phillips said the decision to use sod instead of grass and dirt came down to simple practicality and how best to use the park in years. to come up.
“I’ve been running tournaments and balls since the late 90s and had to rain a hundred to a thousand games – I don’t know,” he said. “And if you have a downpour here, within 15 minutes you can go back to the field and start playing. You don’t all have that upkeep job to dry the field and prepare the ground. And look at these beautiful lines. white. They’re there. We don’t have to repaint and iron them constantly. It saves a lot of money. “
Over time, Phillips said he expects using the turf to save a substantial amount of yard maintenance costs as well as the additional staff that would accompany him.
Having grass pitches also helps ensure that teams can still play when it rains. He noted that baseball seasons generally run from February to July and there is usually a significant amount of rain for most of that time.
“We don’t miss every game we would have missed if it rained,” he said. “And even while you’re playing, if you have a tournament, you’re constantly – between matches – fixing the pitches. You know, they play on them, they mess them up and you fix them. It takes a lot of staff and a lot. equipment and supplies like dirt, chalk, and paint. You play a game on it and off you go. You can play the next game without really working. And so it’s a big money saver and it keeps us from missing games, which I think is a huge advantage and a plus for us to go with this all-grass pitch. “
Before the sod falls off, Phillips said gray rock is added after the initial earthwork to serve as a base for the drainage. Thicker rock is first laid a few inches before the thinner rock is laid on top and smoothed and leveled evenly.
Laying the sod, he explained, is the second step and once the five fields have been sodded, workers come back and stitch the sewn areas together so that the seams are no longer visible. The last step concerns the spreading of the backfill.
“They’ll come back with the landfill and basically smear it like sand on the grass of a golf course, or even a baseball field,” he said.
The entire sodding process at the five pitches takes 30 to 45 days depending on the weather, he said, noting that the four youth pitches will be completed first, followed by the larger main pitch.
As the resort will host everything from city league baseball games to varsity baseball tournaments, it is designed to serve a wide variety of events.
“We’ve also configured every field to accommodate just about anything you can imagine, from men’s baseball to T-ball to college age on the big field,” said Phillips. “And they all use different base distances. So we have the flexibility to move our bases and even accommodate women’s softball with the different rubber and base distances that they use – a very versatile park and one that will be very. used for baseball and some softball too. “
The project is still on schedule and is expected to be completed around the end of August through mid-September, he said.
Other work in progress includes finishing some of the cantilever and decorative arch work, as well as fencing and toilets / concessions. Lots of concrete will also go in, he said, for the square and sidewalks before the final landscaping is done.
The two championship pitches will feature grandstands while the other three will have covered bleachers with backs and sides. A bedroom is also provided for those who wish to bring their own seat.
“If you’ve been to a youth game, people like to bring their lawn chairs and their tents and things like that,” Phillips said. “And there are areas between the grandstand and the canoes for those seats to happen. And you can also sit on that concrete slab on the seats as well. People will.
“From canoe to canoe, you know, people will sit close [the backstop netting] to watch the matches. So we’ll have quite a bit of seating for people to come to all of these games. People don’t usually use all of the permanent seats you have in place anyway, so we left room for people to sit down and the seats to be a bit flexible, ”he said. .
Regarding the degree of planning for the complex fields – which once served as homes for Major League Baseball spring training – Phillips said it was a step-by-step process throughout. along the process.
“Some of the things that we saw as this started to unfold, you know, we said, ‘Hey, let’s do this a little different than that,’ and let’s just try to do it just for that. that we’re gonna use it for, ”he said.“ So yeah, that’s a ton of planning. We’ve got about a year, crawling over a year, to build it and I think it’s just a nice park and this turf to me just – it looks awesome.
“I can just imagine what a 10 year old kid would come up here and play on these courts – what he would think, you know, compared to what I might have grown up playing on. although you will find it I am really proud to have it here in Hot Springs and to use it for our community league and tournaments to bring tourism and tourism money here in Hot Springs ”, a- he declared.
“Lots of Hall of Fame members have played at this site and you can see it on the Historic Baseball Trail, but we’ll also feature the story here. We have a signage plan that will run along these sidewalks as you enter. in the park and it will be like double-sided entrance signs that you can stop and read and take photos with this show – on a specific player, like a Babe Ruth or a Hank Aaron or a Jackie Robinson – and that’s is I will give the story of how they played here. “