For the first time ever, London hosted a regular season MLB game as the New York Yankees faced the Boston Red Sox. West Ham’s London Stadium soccer pitch was transformed to a diamond using 141,900ft2 of artificial turf but now it’s over, where does the playing surface go?
BrightView, which carried out the challenge to install the synthetic turf, sent in a crew of more than one hundred workers to build a baseball field in just 23 days inside the old London 2012 Olympic Stadium and used an innovative method for the turf.
“Sod is extremely expensive, so we decided to look at going with synthetic turf built on top of the concert venue,” said Murray Cook, president of BrightView Sports Turf. “It’s sustainable and we can roll it up after the second game and put it away for next year’s series.”
Not only does the use of synthetic turf prevent the waste of two full fields of sod, but now, after the two games in London are over, MLB and the MLBPA will be able to use the field somewhere else or offer it to another team or league.
Despite the short turnaround, it leaned on experience to pull off the job. As the official field consultant to Major League Baseball, providing field design and construction for games outside the league’s 30 existing ballparks. Past overseas projects include MLB’s two-game series in Puerto Rico’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium, MLB’s 2019 Mexico Series in Monterrey and MLB’s 2019 season opening series at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.
The ballfield went in first, including the normal, all-natural infield clay (which was imported directly from the USA), and was followed by the changes needed to the stadium, such as the additions of dugouts, fencing, padding, the outfield wall, the batter’s eye, and more.
The event proved a success with both games of the series seeing 60,000 sell outs on June 28-29, as the New York Yankees won both ties.