Location: Lake Charles, Louisiana
Owner: City of Lake Charles
Sportsfield Designer: Design Build with Ripken Design
& Sports Design Group
Completed: Spring 2009
Legion Field in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has a history rich in the tradition of nostalgic-style baseball, with a playing surface and grandstands that have been around since the early 1920s. Minor League Baseball used to grace its grounds; Legion Field is currently utilized by local high schools, American Legion baseball, summer league baseball and other teams.
Through the years, the infield became as much as 18 inches higher than the outfield and surrounding foul territory. This was due in large part to the accumulation of infield material caused by poor drainage and standing water. The existing outfield soils were composed of a heavy clay and silt material that did not allow for internal drainage. During periods of rain, the field became unplayable and events had to be canceled.
Ripken Design invited FIELDS to partner with them in redesigning the playing field and correcting the numerous problems. After removing the existing grass and subgrade and disposing of it off site, we found that the soil’s consistency was very saturated and unable to dry. This soil condition is known as “Black Jack” and occurs when excessive moisture gets trapped beneath the tightly compacted upper layer. We corrected this condition by amending the soil and stabilizing the surface enough for grading, installing turf, maintaining the soil and the turf and, most importantly, for playability.
With the soil condition stabilized, we began the renovation process by designing a new layout of the field, constructing the infield skinned areas (exposed soil surfaces) and the pitching mound, and installing the warning track.
To help ensure a proper slope and positive drainage flow between the infield and outfield, we installed a new irrigation system and laser graded the field. This eliminates standing water and excessive moisture in the outfield. After constructing the infield and installing the base anchors, we prepared the surface for the new Tifway Bermuda sod installation.
The end result is a much-improved playing surface that is properly graded and will stand up to wet conditions better than before.