Even though the surface was replaced three years ago, prior to the 2006 season when Pittsburgh hosted the All-Star game, the Pirates are undertaking the complete replacement of the field to ensure that both the Pirates and visiting players are playing on the finest surface in Major League Baseball when they play at PNC Park.
"While the lifespan of a Major League Baseball playing surface is typically four to eight years, it is important that PNC Park remains the Best Ballpark in America in every respect," said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. "We are committed to giving our fans the best in terms of ballpark amenities, customer service and atmosphere for watching a ballgame and giving our players the finest working conditions in baseball. Our three-year old field was still among the better playing surfaces in baseball but our commitment to our fans and to our players is excellence and our new field will meet that high standard."
The new grass surface will be comprised of a Tuckahoe Bluegrass sod, which is a mix of four different kinds of Kentucky Bluegrass – 40% P105 Kentucky Bluegrass, 20% Midnight Star Kentucky Bluegrass, 20% Brilliant Kentucky Bluegrass and 20% overseeded Moonlight Kentucky Bluegrass – and was chosen because of its high quality pedigree that is ideal for Northern climates such as Pittsburgh.
The turf was hand-picked by Pirates Director of Field Operations Manny Lopez and Field Maintenance Supervisor Derek Hurlburt from a sod farm in New Jersey after visiting several farms in the Northeast and Midwest.
The infield dirt will be replaced with new dirt called Dura Edge All-Star Infield Mix. The mix is a blend of several different kinds of dirt coming from a local company in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, called Natural Sand Company. The mixture was created exclusively for PNC Park.
According to Coonelly, the design of the infield will be modified to include unique baselines and first and third base and home plate cutouts, which will provide both functional and aesthetic improvements to the layout.
Finally, the warning track, which is the 18-foot wide, dark red area that borders the entire field where the playing surface meets the wall, will be replaced with new crushed lava rock.