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BrightView completes updates to historic Rickwood Field ahead of game between Cardinals and Giants

June 19, 2024
Logo: BrightView

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals play in the first-ever regular season Major League Baseball (MLB) game to be held at historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., on June 20, and BrightView is playing a critical role by ensuring the field conditions meet current MLB standards.

As the official field consultant of MLB, BrightView renovated the entire playing surface at Rickwood Field, the oldest ballpark in the country, which dates back to 1910.

Under the direction of Murray Cook, president of BrightView’s Sports Turf division, the overhaul of Rickwood’s field included removing the existing field, bringing in all new clay for the infield and warning tracks, replacing the infield and outfield grass with new Tahoma 31 bermudagrass and adding a new padded outfield wall, bullpens, foul poles and netting along the foul lines. BrightView also installed dugouts and added temporary field lighting.

“In all my years of working these events, I’ve had the privilege of building and reconstructing some unique and amazing ballfields all around the world, but the history surrounding Rickwood Field makes this project extra special,” Cook said. “Baseball legends of both the Negro Leagues and MLB stood at home plate, and this game and overall environment will certainly be a great tribute to them.”

The company took special consideration to keep Rickwood’s history and legacy intact, including the outfield fence that holds vintage advertising signs and the iconic scoreboard replicating the one from 1948.

“We had to be mindful of the existing historical features of this field and stadium,” Cook said. “The outfield walls, for example, had to be padded for player protection, but our partners Populous and BaAM Productions were still able to keep the old signs intact through some unique branding methods. We did have to make some adjustments to the positioning of the field, which involved moving home plate back 10 feet and shifting the angle counterclockwise.”

Game Day Grounds Crew

BrightView not only rebuilt the playing surface but will also maintain it. The BrightView team is responsible for keeping the playing surface groomed and ready for each of the three events to be played this week, including the minor league game, a celebrity softball game and the MLB at Rickwood Field game. The grounds crew for the week will consist of eight BrightView team members, 24 locals volunteering as tarp crew, three members of the Friends of Rickwood grounds crew and three local MiLB grounds crew from the Birmingham Barons and Rocket City Trash Pandas.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the exceptional work our team has accomplished at historic Rickwood Field for MLB’s tribute game to the Negro Leagues,” said Dale Asplund, BrightView president and CEO. “Murray Cook and our Sports Turf team has once again demonstrated their unparalleled dedication and craftsmanship by transforming Rickwood’s playing surface into a stunning and immaculate ballfield, ensuring what is to be a fantastic experience for players and fans alike.”

The MLB at Rickwood Field game is another special project in a long line of games that BrightView and MLB have collaborated on, including the recently completed London Series played at West Ham United F.C.’s soccer arena, London Stadium. The company has also worked with MLB to develop, construct and maintain fields for notable games, such as MLB at Field of Dreams, Fort Bragg Game, Sydney Opening Series, Japan Opening Series and Puerto Rico Series.

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