During the 2012 season several Cubs players voiced their complaints about the Wrigley Field playing surface, with one player calling it “by far the worst in the major leagues."
That led to Cubs management doing an extensive study on every field in baseball and the amount of time that each field is used for “non-baseball activities,” which can cause considerable wear and tear on the playing surface.
At the conclusion of the 2012 season the decision was made to completely remove the current field and replace it with all new sod and dirt to bring the field up to a more acceptable level for the players.
In addition, the Cubs are expected to curtail the number of activities that are held at Wrigley starting with the 2013 season. From concerts to soccer games to corporate events, the field has gotten more play and more use than any other baseball only stadium in the sport.
When Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney was informed on Tuesday that the Cubs had decided to completely replace the playing field at Wrigley Field, he was quick to praise the team's ground crew who labored day and night to make the old surface playable.
"Our grounds crew did an amazing job trying to keep the playing surface in as good a shape as possible. However, when you have as many events going on as they do at Wrigley from concerts to corporate events it is very hard to maintain," Barney told CSNChicago.com.
At a cost of $400,000 the Cubs elected to completely tear out the old grass and dirt and replace it with a new blend of dirt and a Kentucky Bluegrass that was trucked in from Colorado. The sod is the exact same that was recently installed at Busch Stadium in St. Louis when the Cardinals replaced their outfield.
Barney, who is currently hard at work along with center fielder Brett Jackson with the Cubs hitting coaches in Arizona, is excited to get back to playing at the Friendly Confines.
"My teammates and I are excited to play on a new and improved playing surface at the greatest ballpark in baseball. It is great to see that our front office is doing all they can to make our field the best in the game."
Wrigley Field's infield was improved when a new drainage system was put in place a few years ago, and the crown was removed. Barney said he wanted to make it clear that the Wrigley grounds crew was not to blame for the hard field, but pointed to all the events that take place at the ballpark, specifically mentioning the concerts.
"It's hard on them to get this thing ready to play every day," he said. "They work really hard to do that. The truth is, it is that field that people say (bad things) about. But it's your baby. You've got to say it's the best field you've ever been on and just go from there."