Hays eyes artificial turf for Bickle-Schmidt ball fields

Ball game in the Bickle-Schmidt sports complexThe ball fields in the Bickle Schmidt sports complex

For some time now, Hays has had artificial turf on its wish list for the eight ball fields of the municipal Bickle Schmidt sports complex. This dream can come true.

City officials have requested proposals for the installation of artificial turf, an estimated $ 1.65 million project, says Jeff Boyle, director of the parks division.

“It’s a huge project,” Boyle said on Friday. “Almost every company has a different type of lawn. It will be quite a thorough research and discussion of each strain that is on offer. We want to make sure we are getting a good lawn that will last at least 8 to 10 years, preferably more than 15 years. “

With final approval from the Hays City Commission, construction would begin on August 1, at the end of this year’s ball season. Allowing for snow and rain in the fall and winter when work could stall, the installation would be completed by March 24, 2022, he said.

The offers are due on April 13th and will be presented to the Hays City Commission at its regular working session on May 6th at the Rathaus, 1507 Main.

The city recently approved more grandstand color and new scoreboards for the ball fields.

“As soon as we get all of that. It’s going to be fantastic out there, ”said Boyle.

“I think we will see that it is full every weekend,” he said. “Most people prefer turf because the game is guaranteed. … It will attract people from further afield because they know they will be able to play ball instead of saying, “If I go 250 miles, I might not even be able to play when it rains.” So a lot of people stay at home and don’t even sign up for the tournaments. That way it could literally rain and we can be playing on it in 10 minutes. “

At eye level with competitors

The proposed lawn would cover the 1st, 2nd, 3rd baseplate and baseplate. That would now replace the red dirt there, which gets powdery and blows, depending on how much game is going on.

“There were days when it’s just unbearable and the dirt blows,” said Boyle.

If Hays gets infield turf, the 110 acre Bickle Schmidt fields will be in the same league as others he competes with across the state to host local and regional tournaments.

Dodge City has turf, Boyle said, while Pratt, Great Bend, and Salina all lay turf.

“It’s kind of a new trend,” said Boyle. “What we see from many parts of Kansas is the fact that the wind is blowing and the dirt fields are not the most comfortable situation to sit in when the wind is blowing.”

However, that is not the only reason. Rain is also a problem.

“If it rains and you have a tournament planned and it rains the night before, it can be a big problem because everything is muddy,” he said. “This is no longer a problem with artificial turf. So you can almost guaranteed play after a rain event. “

Funding could come from a portion of the proceeds of a statewide quarter-cent sales tax approved by Ellis County’s voters in April 2020, he said.

Great drain

Artificial turf has an underflow system, Boyle explained, that takes in the water that lands on the turf outside the ball field area, beyond the fence.

Manufacturers say turf can handle 40 inches of rain per hour, he said.

“We don’t see 40 inches of rain here for a whole year,” said Boyle. “Even if it rains heavily, it will definitely take the water out and make it possible to play.”

The turf is some kind of plastic, with crumbs of rubber filling the ground, and only the top quarter to half an inch of turf sticking out, he said.

Color varies.

Boyle said he wanted brown on the softball fields and green on the baseball field. But if companies make other suggestions, he allows them to be in the offer.

Existing turf grass would remain in the outfield.

“I’ve never heard anyone complain about artificial turf,” said Boyle. “Most players want to play on artificial turf.”

Aside from guaranteed play, it’s smooth and consistent, he said.

“The turf is always the way it’s supposed to be, so the bumps on the dirt don’t alter or alter the route of the ball and the like,” Boyle said.

What’s next

City officials may drive to different locations to see how the various lawns are holding up.

The complex on the US Highway 183 bypass, managed by the Hays Recreation Commission, also hosts games for the Hays Rec outdoor sports leagues.

“We sort of made sure we didn’t over-plan the complex and create a problem with them getting the job done,” he said.

Turf would do whatever needs to be done on the ball fields, Boyle said, except for the trees.

“Of course we have a lot more trees that we would like to plant out there,” he said. “This process will take years before we have enough trees and shade.”

The city commission on Thursday approved the purchase of eight new billboards with larger digital numbers, space for sponsor names and payment in installments in early June.

The new hard-wired aluminum scoreboards will replace existing 10-year-old scoreboards, which Boyle says are unreliable.

The low bid for the scoreboards was $ 79,905 from Daktronics of South Dakota, a company known to Hays Rec. The city will pay for the billboards with the sales tax reserve of the Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex and then refund the money in 2022 with special parking and recreational funds.

The commission approved the $ 450,000 spending on March 4 to expand the shadow over the grandstands on the eight ball fields. What eases what Boyle said is complaint # 1 about the ballpark.

Adding more shadows behind the backstops will more than triple what is in place now to 2,130 square feet.

Kansas-based Quality Structures Inc. will begin operations April 1st and will complete operations in the first week of May.

As suggested for the lawn, the shade will be funded from some proceeds from a statewide quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in April 2020.

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