If the Seattle Mariners “left it all on the field” at the end of the 2017 baseball season they won’t be able to get it back next year, as the playing surface is being completely replaced at Safeco Field.
The offseason project is the first replacement of the ballpark’s original surface, installed in the spring of 1999. New images from the team on Instagram show the process has begun to remove the grass in the outfield.
Update, Oct. 11: The Mariners added several new images.
The Mariners said in a news release that grass in the infield and foul territory was replaced in 2012, but with the exception of patches here and there, the outfield hasn’t been touched.
The maintenance — expected to last until the end of October — involves grinding and composting the turf and excavating a thick layer of sand. The area is then “laser leveled” and prepped for new grass with a “root zone” mixture of sand, peat and other amendments to help maintain airflow and moisture, according to the team.
Country Green Turf Farms outside of Olympia, Wash., — the original supplier of Safeco Field’s grass — is handling the grass again this time around.
As for the infield, around 260 tons of clay will be trucked from Salt Lake City to replace the dirt portions of the playing surface, including the pitcher’s mound, which will be constructed next March.
Players who have felt a little taller when they step on Safeco’s surface will be returned to their listed height, as the field will drop to its original level. The landscape practice of adding a thin layer of sand, called “top dressing,” to the surface to promote healthy growing conditions, has raised the field about 4 inches over time.
David Anderson, the engineer who designed Safeco Field’s original playing surface, is overseeing the entire project. He’s a principal engineer at D.A. Hogan & Associates in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, which specializes in engineering and landscape architecture services for sports fields and running tracks.
The Mariners finished tied for third place in the American League West with a 78-84 record this year. The team’s last trip to the postseason was in 2001 — the longest drought in Major League Baseball.
The next big change at the ballpark could come with a change in the name after the 2018 season, as the 20-year naming rights agreement between the insurance company and the team is coming to an end. Safeco said it’s interested in spreading its investment dollars across more marketing partners.