The latest look at how Dodger Stadium is transforming from a world-class baseball facility into a scatter-dirt motocross track for the first time in its 49-year history:
After the 550 dump-truck loads of dirt (a 60/40 combination of clay and sand mix) were hauled between midnight and 6 a.m. up the Harbor Freeway earlier in the week from three job sites in Carson, the motocross track crew followed a plan that was supervised by Dodger Stadium head groundskeeper Eric Hansen.
The first thing to note: Don’t put any part of the track where he set that orange cone. That’s the pitcher’s mound. And he’d really like to not have to rebuild it again.
“I hope not to see any Bobcats near that cone,” Hansen said.
“I really don’t worry (that things will be destroyed by the track), but it’s just the nature of the business. My heartbeat went up a bit when I first saw all the dirt brought in. If I hadn’t seen it all before today, I might be more worried.
As for the keeping the pitcher’s mound intact, Hansen said that building a new one “sometimes just takes a couple of hours, but to do it right takes a few days to really shape it. In some baseball parks, the mound can be mechanically lowered and raised up. In others, there is water around it and it sort of floats in there.”
It’s not the first time he’s had to save the mound. Back when Dodger Stadium hosted a Rolling Stone concert, the stage set up in center field had a retractable element that allowed Mick Jagger and Keith Richard to move toward home plate.
“There were two channels built so the moveable stage went over the mound,” said Hansen.
Hansen said that his biggest concern is preserving the skin, or dirt part of the infield, so that chunks of rocks from the motocross dirt don’t get ground into it “and be contaminated by the rocks.”
“It’s funny how when the baseball field is there, we try to keep people off the grass as much as possible,” Hansen added. “Now ….”
His voice kind of trailed off, knowing at what he was looking at, there was no going back.
It took 2 1/2 days to built the motocross track, starting Monday morning at 8 a.m., said Dave Prater, the director of the Supercross Tour. It started with a layer of plastic tarp over the field, followed by plywood, then gravel, then dirt.
“The field is actually intact under it all,” said Prater. “But a month from now, it’ll all be gone.”
His reference is to the fact that Dodger Stadium will also host a Monster Truck event in mid-February. After this Supercross event, the dirt piles will be moved around and reshaped, then finally hauled away and the new sod put into place hopefully in time for the Dodgers’ first visit late in March for a couple of exhibition games prior to the March 31 season opener against the Giants.
Part of the deal to have the dirt put in for the two events is that the promoters will pay for the stadium to be resodded in time for the baseball season to start.
But if there was a game to be played today, this is the view Vin Scully would have from his TV booth seat: