Drake Field artificial turf project delayed, as turf supply shortage hits contractor

·4 min read

Aug. 24—While crews were scheduled to begin installing artificial turf at Drake Field in September, the project will be pushed back a few months due to what city officials say is a lack of turf supply.

Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell said the company that was chosen to install the artificial turf at Drake Field, Mid-American Sports Construction, couldn't get artificial turf this year as initially expected. Despite the uncertainty of when the contractor will get the turf to install, Powell anticipates it will arrive for crews to complete the roughly $410,000 project by the spring.

"They can't get artificial turf this year as they expected. They might be able to get it by December. Nobody believes that it's going to take until June to get it done, and they think they will get the turf earlier than December," Powell said during the Aug. 12 Parks and Recreation Board meeting. "They could even get it done this year, but they would be on it as soon as they have the right temperature in the spring."

Sports Complex Supervisor Jeremy Nielsen said Mitchell's Drake Field is one of 12 that the Missouri-based sports field construction company can't get installed by the fall.

Although the turf has yet to arrive, crews will begin the dirt work that needs to be done for the turf to be installed within a week. Nielsen said the dirt work that crews are set to start Monday will allow the turf to be installed within two weeks when it does arrive. However, he noted that it will also hinge on weather conditions.

"They say 40 degrees is the ideal temperature to install, and it will take about two weeks to put the turf in. It doesn't have to be 40 degrees for two weeks straight, it can have some fluctuating temperatures in that time frame," Nielsen said. "The turf company is saying they are 120 days out to get the turf, which would put it around December."

The project entails installing artificial turf in the infield and around backstop area and bullpens. The outfield will have roughly 6-feet of turf, while the rest will remain grass. In addition, the backstop and some fencing around the diamond will be replaced as part of the overall project.

"The color of the turf will go from brown to green for a 6-foot arch strip that will go into the outfield," Nielsen said.

Bringing artificial turf to Drake Field, which sits next to Cadwell Park, has been a shared goal among local baseball leaders and teams that utilize the baseball diamond. Mitchell Post 18 head coach Luke Norden said the turf infield will give Drake Field the ability to handle games and practices almost immediately after a rain event, which is a challenge both Mitchell's baseball teams have come up against with the existing grass infield.

Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell Baseball Association both pledged $65,000 donations for the turf project, while the Drake family, who the field is named after, pledged $30,000. The Exchange Club also pitched in with a pledge of $15,000. Once the project is complete, DWU and Mitchell Baseball Association will have their team logos placed on the infield. The Drake family will also have a logo applied to the infield.

During the Aug. 12 Parks and Recreation Board meeting, Board President Chris Retterath addressed his concern of where Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell Baseball teams would play in 2022 if Drake Field is under construction until June 1, 2022 or beyond that time frame. Nielsen said Cadwell Park would serve as the alternative option for DWU baseball, if the turf project isn't finished until June 2022.

Powell suggested establishing a hard deadline for the project's completion date to June 1, 2022. If the contractors aren't able to install the turf by the June 1, 2022 deadline, Powell said a $100 to $150 fee would be tacked on for each day the project completion date stretches past the deadline.

"It will be a drop-dead date to have it done by June 1 next year," Powell said.

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