Blue Jays installing dirt infield for 2016 season

The Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday announced they would begin installing a regulation dirt infield at Rogers Centre on Feb. 8 that will be ready for the April 8 home opener against the Boston Red Sox.

Work at Rogers Centre begins Feb. 8

The Blue Jays will begin work Feb. 8 to install a dirt infield at Rogers Centre that will be ready for the 2016 regular season. The work will involve excavation of the cement floor at the stadium in the base path and infield areas to a depth of 30.48 centimetres and will impact an area of approximately 1,115 square metres. (Courtesy sportslogos.net/Twitter)

The Blue Jays are installing a dirt infield at the Rogers Centre for the first time but say it is too early to determine whether they would replace artificial turf with grass in some future season.

Toronto announced Wednesday that work will begin next week to excavate about 12,000 square feet of concrete. The infield and baselines will be dug out to a depth of 12 inches and filled with layers of gravel, sand and clay.

Toronto and Tampa Bay are the only major league teams with artificial surfaces at their home ballparks. At Tropicana Field, the infield and baselines are dirt.

Before moving in June 1989 to what then was called SkyDome, the Blue Jays spent more than 12 seasons on artificial turf at Exhibition Stadium.

Former Blue Jays president Paul Beeston expressed a desire to install grass at Rogers Centre. Mark Shapiro replaced Beeston in November and said the following month that installing a grass surface must be weighed against other potential upgrades.

Shapiro said in an email the team is awaiting a study by the University of Guelph to determine whether a grass field can be installed. If a grass field is possible, he said the Blue Jays would assess "the feasibility in light of other capital needs."

"No parameter available for timeline," he said. "The study at Guelph will determine next steps." Before the 2015 season, the Blue Jays installed AstroTurf 3D Xtreme, which plays much slower than traditional artificial surfaces.

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