Bringing Major League Baseball to Europe for the very first time, the MLB knew they had to go big or go home – and where better to go big with the launch of the MLB London Series than the home of the London 2012 Olympics, the London Stadium?
Location set, the MLB needed to find the right partners to deliver this landmark event in a tight time scale.
With The London stadium committed to a summer programme of sporting and musical events time was limited to install the artificial turf pitch for the London Series, then to remove it in time for the Diamond League athletics event in July.
With only 21 days for construction and just 5 days for removal, MLB sought a partner who could meet challenging, fixed, deadlines and deliver a playing surface worthy of two of the world’s best sports teams.
Following an exhaustive selection process MLB entrusted the project to Hewitt Sportsturf and S&C Slatter to construct the artificial turf pitch, with long term S&C Slatter partners FieldTurf contracted to produce the 15,000 square metres of FieldTurf Vertex carpet.
Planning for success
Before works commenced S&C Slatter began an intense programme of planning and communication. We liaised with contractors from media organisations, lighting suppliers, seating suppliers, advertising contractors and the MLB team to carefully plan logistics and site access.
Our in-house Health and Safety Officer was involved throughout this process and prepared a detailed Health and Safety schedule for the project.
Knocking it out of the park
After Hewitt prepared an initial aggregate layer on top of the ArmourDeck surface, the S&C Slatter team laser paved and compacted a final 30mm layer of additional aggregate to create a flat, level, playing surface ready to receive and install the FieldTurf Vertex carpet.
Once we installed the synthetic turf we laid the clay base path – the diamond that connects the bases, constructed using 374 tons of Pennsylvania dirt, followed by the construction of two bullpens and two batting practice cages. Working closely with the MLB grounds team to we achieved an exact level match between the clay, infield, and synthetic surface.
With construction completed on time and without issue we supplied a round-the-clock maintenance team to provide instant response should any issues arise (they didn’t).
Twenty minutes after the last ball was pitched we began the deconstruction process, removing the batting cages and bullpens before extracting the pitch itself. We had the entire pitch removed, and the stadium returned to its previous state, in just two days.
A win for the Yankees, the MLB and London Tourism
The New York Yankees went on to win both games of the series, but they weren’t the only winners. With 59,659 baseball fans spectating, it was the highest attendance at any MLB game in over 15 years.
It was a big success for London too. With Mayor Sadiq Khan “determined to bring baseball to our city”, the series well and truly delivered, with over one third of attendees visiting from overseas, generating millions for London’s retail and tourism industries. The venue itself also benefited, selling over 80,000 pints of beer, 10,000 hotdogs and 2,600 bags of monkey nuts.
You can read more on this project, which was a finalist in the SAPCA Awards 2020 here.