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U.S. Cellular Field in rough shape after brutal winter

Mar 17, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

U.S. Cellular Field

Interesting story today from JJ Stankevitz of about the challenge White Sox head groundskeeper Roger Bossard faces to get U.S. Cellular Field ready for Opening Day on March 31 against the Twins. After a brutal winter, it’s not going to be easy.

As things stand, a brutal Chicago winter has left about 30 inches of permafrost beneath the playing surface at U.S. Cellular Field. Bossard needs to thaw the ground down about six to 10 inches for the field to be playable — though the brutal Chicago winter hasn’t loosened its grip to allow that to happen naturally.

So Bossard’s strategy is twofold. After removing about 400 tons of snow from the field over the weekend, he’s working on heating and thawing the playing surface from above and beneath.

Two tarps were stationed on the left and right sides of the infield on Monday with powerful heaters blasting warm air to help thaw the ground. The temperature under the tarps is around 75 degrees, and Bossard said it’ll take three days of constant heat to thaw the required six to 10 inches on those areas of the field.

Crazy stuff. While Bossard remains optimistic that his crew will be able to get the field ready in time, Stankevitz writes that Chicago is expected to get another cold blast this weekend and will experience a low below freezing every day leading into Opening Day. With less than two weeks to go, they could be cutting it close.

  1. tfbuckfutter - Mar 17, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    Seriously. The simplest solutions. They are right there in front of you.

  2. rgledz - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:02 AM

    Oh boo F’ing hoo. Minnesota had over 50 days below zero this winter. Chicago’s winter wasn’t anywhere near as brutal. Suck it up buttercup. You’re not alone.

    • chilguy - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:35 AM

      I guess stupidity must reign in Minnesota, too.

      A little research would show you that Target Field has something that U.S. Cellular Field doesn’t have: a heating system underneath the playing surface. Despite the fact that both ballparks have natural grass, no two grass playing surfaces are exactly alike. There are several different varieties of grass that are tailored to climate, temperature, environment, etc. In other words, it’s unlikely that the same surface is being used at both stadiums.

      The whole point of the story is that the historically cold conditions (and we haven’t seen a winter like this in decades) has created a situation that has put a strain on the field that the stadium’s designers could not have anticipated, and it’s going to take more time and effort than usual to get it in shape for Opening Day.

      • sumkat - Mar 18, 2014 at 5:24 AM

        Then again, every field in Chicago is awful. Soldier field is known for being slop by the time the winter sets in.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      I would say that there is (or should be) a greater expectation of cold and snow in MN than in Illinois. If you live in the place where it is supposed to now all the time, you can’t really complain when it snows all the time.

  3. crnvic847 - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:17 AM

    While that may be true, Chicago has had 80 inches of snow this year. Minneapolis has had 58 inches. So the sun hasn’t had the chance to thaw the ground with that much snow on the field. So boo F’ing hoo to you sir.

    • Cris E - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      Regardless of depth, the solution is the same: carry the snow away and get started on the thawing. There’s been winter in both cities for decades (or longer!) and the team is confident they’ll get it sorted out by Opening Day.

      The real issue is that we’re drifting through the boring end of Spring Training. When there’s no news you get stories about, um, hey look, the groundskeeper!

  4. bravestomahawkchamp - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:24 AM

    You Northerners enjoy all the, as they say in Korea , Devil Sh@t powder that comes from the sky. We Southern folk enjoy our warm weather.

    • paperlions - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      Yeah, well, I’ll be enjoying an August where the average high temperature is about 80F, and have had entire summers in which I don’t even install my window unit AC. Have fun sweating.

      • happytwinsfan - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:06 AM

        unfortunately we do get hot humid days here to compliment the freezing ones. sad to say the best seasons here are the seasons in between the seasons.

      • paperlions - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:09 AM

        The curse of being in the middle of the continent. The summers here in eastern CT vary a lot, some are pretty hot, but some (like last summer) are beautiful almost every day. All depends on whether or not a high pressure system settles over the area. Where I live is 90% forest, which really helps keep the area cooler.

    • johnnynewguy - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:50 PM

      I’ll enjoy the Devil Sh!t since I know how to drive in it thank you very much. Are you commenting on this page while still stuck in traffic?

  5. sumkat - Mar 18, 2014 at 5:22 AM

    why don’t they just call the scottish guy I see on TV all the time?

    Come on Sox, “Seed your lawn….SEED IT”!!

    • thomasgarvey - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      I thought the guy was saying FEED it.

      • Steve A - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        He says “SEED IT” in the grass seed commercials and “FEED IT” in the fertilizer commercials, as I recall.

  6. chiadam - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    Toughen up, buttercup? Who was complaining? I mean, other than you. If you feel like a tough guy when you brag about who had the worse winter, go ahead. Have at it. But you look like a moron.

  7. kcrobert10 - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    It global freaking warming…..

  8. otistaylor89 - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    Isn’t snow suppose to insulated the ground from the cold? At least that was what I was told.

  9. rbj1 - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    Mud Hens had to install an inflatable dome:

    85″ in Toledo. We bested the old record by a foot.

    As for seeding your lawn, what lawn? All there is is snow.

  10. karlkolchak - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Just highlights the fact that the season starts too damn early.

    • happytwinsfan - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      no, spring starts too damn late.

      • kcrobert10 - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        No we need to burn even more fosil fuels to make it warmer come on guys the democrats have already given us the answer.

  11. mrbiz8505 - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    The Sod father will take care of this

  12. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    In other news, the White Sox just signed Viktor Ahn to play centerfield until June.

  13. gloccamorra - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    There was a time when the then-Boston Patriots played in Fenway Park. Their last year, they really chewed up the field, and a long rainy period followed the snow. The Red Sox owner, Tom Yawkey, actually hired a helicopter to hover over the field to dry it out. He finally gave up and scraped the field, replacing it with turf flown in. Then he told the Patriots to find another place to play. They ended up playing in old Braves Field, renamed Nickerson Field, owned by Boston University, until they built their own stadium.

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