The Arlington Heights Park District is about halfway done installing new synthetic field turf on the baseball and softball fields at Melas Park, officials said.
The infields on all four baseball and softball fields at the park, 1500 Central Road, will be replaced by the end of October, said John Robinson, the district’s superintendent of recreation.
Although Melas Park sits in Mount Prospect, the land is owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago, and the Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights park districts each rent parts of the site.
The park, which is known for hosting tournaments, needed the update for several reasons, Robinson said.
“The Arlington Heights Park District wanted to provide their athletes with a park of the future that will secure the safety of players, effectively wash away rain delays, as well as save costs and increase revenue in years to come,” he said in a release.
The project is expected to cost just over $1 million, with the money coming from the recreation fund’s capital projects budget.
The fields will have sewer and drainage systems underneath to disperse water to the retention part of the park, allowing more games to be played rather than rescheduled due to rain.
“The main benefit is that we won’t rain out as much,” Robinson said. “If it rains, we can’t play on the dirt fields because of the standing water. But with the new turf, as long as there’s not lightning, we can play in the rain.”
He said games are rained out up to 20 days each summer, which extends the season by several weeks.
Other benefits include lower maintenance costs and increased safety, he said.
“Turf has consistency, meaning that it does not create diverts, rocks, or holes as a regular dirt infield would,” said Brien Halterman, the district’s athletics supervisor. He added that studies show synthetic turf reduces player injuries.
The field turf is being installed on one or two fields at a time because there are still softball and a baseball games being held at the park this summer and fall.
With work on two of the fields finishing this week, fall leagues will start using the new turf soon while the remaining dirt fields are replaced.
“This is a nice addition to the Arlington Heights Park District,” Robinson said. “We have a large softball program and we anticipate that our number of teams will still be high and we’ll be able to host tournaments without having to worry about rainouts.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.