It’s been a busy season for the Detroit Tigers (62-50), who won’t return to Comerica Park until Aug. 13, when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the meantime, DBusiness Daily News caught up with Heather Nabozny, the team’s head groundskeeper, about the new turf that was installed in the spring.
1. DDN: How is the new turf holding up?
HN: This is the first time we have re-sodded our field since 2007, (and it) required the removal of 650 tons of sod and organic material and adding the same amount of root zone to bring the field back up to grade. Due to the harsh winter, we had to remove 30 semi-truck loads of snow from the field to begin the project. My team of six full-time groundskeepers and other part-time employees worked 80 to 90 hour weeks for three weeks leading up to Opening Day on March 31 to complete the project.
2. DDN: Have you noticed any major differences from the previous turf?
HN: We host 82 home games, 12 high school games, 24 corporate batting practices, three concerts, and numerous other events on our field each year. The new turf is more durable and provides a safe, playable surface year round.
3. DDN: When do you expect to next replace the turf?
HN: It really depends on the wear on the field over the next few seasons and the amount of activities that are scheduled on the field other than Tigers baseball. We have gone seven years since our last re-sodding project so would expect it to be about the same.
4. DDN: What does your typical workday look like?
HN: When the Tigers are in town, my workday begins early each morning to prepare the field for the game. We mow the field every day (and) we paint our D and foul lines every other day. The infield clay surface is groomed daily and hand-watered up to five times a day. The mounds are repaired and packed with clay. This includes the bullpen mounds as well. The infield turf along with foul territory is watered daily by hand. The warning track is raked and groomed. We set up batting practice starting around 2 p.m., and tear it down at 6:20 p.m. to prep for the game.
Once the game is complete, we repack the mounds and plate, groom the infield, rake the track, and clean the dugouts, bullpens, and umps tunnel. If we are expecting rain over night, we place the infield tarp on the field before we leave.
5. DDN: How has field maintenance changed since you first joined the Tigers staff?
HN: Since 1999, I’ve held the same position for the Detroit Tigers. The sports turf industry has improved greatly in the past few decades. As a member of the Sports Turf Managers Association, I’m able to broadcast my ideas with more than 2,600 similar people across the U.S., while also learning best practices from them, too. The information shared has allowed my team to maintain Comerica Park as one of the top sports fields in the country.