Friday, January 05, 2001

Cinergy's new grass delayed

Infield done, but outfield under snow in Indiana

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A long streak of abnormally cold weather turned the grass at Paul Brown Stadium into the mud at Paul Brown Stadium. Could the current cold spell play similar havoc with the new turf at Cinergy Field?

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The infield grass was installed in November.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        The weather already has delayed the schedule at Cinergy — the natural turf still has not been put down in the outfield.

        But the company installing the grass at Cinergy and the groundskeeper for the Bengals both say a disaster like the one at PBS is unlikely to happen.

        “Sure, we'd like to have the grass down now,” said James Minutolo, vice president of the Motz Group. “But we've anticipated how uncooperative the weather can be. We're a long way from the panic stage.”

        Doug Bradley, the head groundskeeper at PBS, said the timetable is better suited for Cinergy's purposes.

        “You can do a lot of growing in two weeks in March,” Bradley said. “Once it busts loose, it will grow fast. It's a lot easier to try to grow in the spring. In football, when you're trying to grow from November to January, it's tough.”

        The Motz Group, a local company that installs athletic fields all over the world, has dealt with two problems at Cinergy: the cold weather has frozen the root zone, and the project has to take place around the demolition going on in the outfield in conjunction with the construction of the Reds' new stadium.

        The infield grass is in. The hope was to install most of the outfield grass in December, but the weather prevented that. The last 20 feet in front of the warning track is to be installed shortly before Opening Day, April2, because of the demolition work.

        “We're hoping for some typical Cincinnati weather where you have some warm days in the middle of January,” Minutolo said. “But if we can get it in by March, we'll be OK.”

        Bluegrass will be used at Cinergy. PBS encountered problems when it used Bermuda grass after a drought killed bluegrass that was supposed to be installed. Once the Bermuda was damaged, it was too late in the growing season to save it.

        “The bluegrass we used on the practice fields is still growing strong,” Bradley said.

        The bluegrass destined for Cinergy is at a turf farm near Brookville, Ind. The snow on top of it will have to melt, then the ground will have to be dry enough for the grass to be harvested.

        Minutolo said it will take about two weeks to put the turf down in the outfield.

        The 20 feet of the outfield in front of the warning track will get Synthetically Stabilized Turf, which combines artificial and natural grass. It is used mostly for football and soccer fields, including Ohio Stadium.

        If the weather pushes back the schedule too far, Synthetically Stabilized Turf could be used for the entire outfield. Minutolo doesn't expect that to happen.

        “If we get a break in the weather,” he said, “we can get back on schedule pretty quickly.”


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