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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stadium repairs before Wingnuts begin play

Lawrence-Dumont Stadium will have artificial turf covering the entire field for the first time as part of a $2 million renovation.

BY CHRIS ELLIOTT
The Wichita Eagle

Lawrence-Dumont Stadium will undergo a $2 million renovation this spring that includes, for the first time, artificial turf over the entire field.

The new synthetic turf, designed by ATG Sports of Andover, is expected to save the city and Wingnuts baseball franchise from field maintenance costs such as mowing, fertilizer and chalk, as well as rainouts.

"If we rained out a Saturday night game that was packed, it's a $30,000 loss to us," Wingnuts president Josh Robertson said.

Similar to Wichita State's year-old turf, Lawrence-Dumont's turf will have no grass and dirt only on the pitcher's mound and the bullpen mounds. The batters boxes and basepaths will be synthetic.

"To me the big thing from the fan perspective is playability," said Joe Pajor, city interim director of Public Works and Utilities. "Especially with the NBC with baseball around the clock, weather in the past has wreaked havoc on that schedule."

Part of the project will renovate and expand the crowded dugouts. They will be widened and built deeper to accommodate taller players who haven't been able to stand up straight in past years.

Insurance compensation from the 2009 hailstorm will provide the funds to replace the lower box blue seats, infield and outfield wall padding, the stadium roof, the windscreen around the batting cage and the stadium sign, which will feature an LED screen.

The entire project, which will include in-ground artwork near the ticket windows and on the third-base concourse, is expected to be completed April 21, with no interruption for the Wingnuts' preseason workouts.

The City Council approved design work for the project late last year. Tuesday, the Council approved ATG as contractor over Kansas City-based firms Hollas Construction, Mid-America Golf and Shaw Sportex.

Reach Chris Elliott at 316-268-6296 or celliott@wichitaeagle.com.

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