Building a Baseball Field
posted on March 15th 2007 by Troy Frazier
Baseball Field Construction
Building a new ball field (baseball or softball) is a very broad subject. I'm only going to cover a few ideas people might find useful. I will not be covering building mounds, or base dimensions at this time. Here are a few links that are more in that topic range.
The first step to building a baseball field is to establish your budget. Building a new ball field can cost anywhere from $15,000 to millions, and the budget is going to make a lot of decisions for you. Once you have this information you can move on to site selection. This is a really difficult process. Managing zoning issues is a nightmare. If you have a developer in your group that is familiar with zoning it really helps. I'm surprised to see how much resistance neighbors put up against ball fields. I would love to live next to a ball field, but not everyone feels that way.
When you're looking for your site, consider where you would put the home plate, and then look at a few factors. One, where is the sun going to rise and set, will it interfere with the batter or pitcher? Generally you want the batter to be facing northeast, but that's not always possible particularly when you're building more than one field on the same site. Next look at where foul balls will go. Are they going to fall into a creek, or hit cars in the parking lot? Now look carefully at how the land drains. Rough grading will correct a lot of things, but if the site is on a flood plane there isn't much you can do. That sounds obvious, but I can think of at least two complexes that are built on flood plains. Finally consider your parking needs, and expected traffic.
I would recommend having an athletic field specialist, or a contractor that understands very fine grading, install your dirt infield. That is what our company does. We recommend four inches of quality infield mix for the skinned infield. You can read more about infield mix here, and here. Many contractors are not able to grade a field to the precision that most coaches would want.
You'll want to plant grass as soon as possible. The "book" says you need to have three good growing seasons to establish turf. There are some cheats and short cuts, but give it as much time as you can. We like to use a combination of bluegrass and rye here in Ohio, but that changes depending on what region you live in.
Fencing will be a big consideration. If you need to save money, look for volunteer labor. Don't try to use cheap material. We recommend at least a 9 gauge wire for most fencing, and a heavier 6 gauge wire for the back section of the backstop. We also recommend an extra retaining bar 6 to 12 inches above the ground retaining bar on the back stop. This will help prevent the back stop from bending out. Make sure that every post on the fence is planted in cement. We dig our post holes to a depth of three feet. Shortcuts that are common for home fencing won't work for ball park fencing. Ball field fencing takes a great deal more abuse than average fencing.
There are a number of other considerations like sub surface drainage, irrigation, dugouts, seating, or press boxes. We will save those topics for another day.
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>>Building a Baseball Field
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Adding the Baseball Dirt to the Field
Spreading the Dirt on the Field
Checking the Dirt Level