Home turf: St. Paul Saints field has new grass

Jake Yunker, with Chisago City-based Peterson Companies landscaping, lays sod along the first base line as crews work on the infield at the Lowertown ballpark. The turf started going in today, to be ready for minor league baseball in May. Tim Nelson/MPR News

CHS Field in St. Paul's Lowertown got a dose of summer with its first layer of sod Wednesday. Just after dawn, crews started installing the infield turf at the $62 million stadium.

It's a key part of the construction process that signals the minor league baseball St. Paul Saints will play on the new home field at the start of the season next May.

"I know it was a tough task to keep on schedule," St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said, noting it was important to put grass down now to allow it time to grow.  "We can do a lot of things through the course of the winter, laying sod is not one of them."

Tim Ryan, with Ryan Cos., which is building the stadium, said the turf comes from Robert Heath Farms in Coloma, Wisconsin. He said it's the same sod that's used in Miller Park, where the Milwaukee Brewers play. "This sod was actually best suited to the drainage system we have installed here," Ryan said.

The sod, about 95,000 square feet of it, should be completely installed by the end of the week. "We'd like it to take root and maybe get a couple mows on it before winter really sets in and it goes dormant." Ryan said.

Ryan estimates the stadium structure is 90 percent complete, the entire project has about one-third of the work left to do.  Construction crews will focus on the interiors and finishing details over the winter.

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