Regional
1:00 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Greenest Thing in Milwaukee? Miller Park's Grass

While the local landscape remains colorless, the grounds crew at Miller Park has been growing grass for the start of the Milwaukee Brewers' season.

New lighting system enables ballpark grass to grow while Milwaukee waits for spring
New lighting system enables ballpark grass to grow while Milwaukee waits for spring
Credit John Holman

Fans will gather for two exhibition games over the weekend with Opening Day following on Monday.

Workers laid new sod after last season, but they've also been tending the field this year and using s system of growing lights.

Grounds Director Michael Boettcher says after crews lifted the tarp off the playing field a few weeks ago, they brought in the brand new, long contraption holding dozens of lights. Workers wheel the system to a different spot on the field every 24 hours. "They (the system of growing lights) came from Europe," Boettcher says.

Workers move the lights, every 24 hours
Workers move the lights, every 24 hours
Credit John Holman

Boettcher says the growing lights were a big investment, but they enable the grass to grow. There was no sunlight in the ballpark over the winter because the roof at Miller Park was closed to keep the soil temperature at about 30 degrees.

The lights do present a small challenge though. Boettcher says they create heat and it can dry out the sod, so the stadium circulates air over the grass and workers water it. He says he must also research the types of root systems that work here (Kentucky bluegrass) and the type of clay to use, including on the pitcher's mound and home-plate area.

Then there’s raking to make sure the clay is smooth and mowing the perfect design into the grass.

Boettcher says some people notice the precision it takes. "There (have) been players who have been here for numerous seasons, and they come back every year, and they say, you guys do a great job. It's nice to hear that," he says.