By ALAN SNEL
Your new professional soccer team in Las Vegas is playing its first preseason game in 17 days.
And the soccer club’s launch is happening in the shadow of one of the sports world’s biggest stories — another Las Vegas expansion franchise named the Vegas Golden Knights.
So, if you’re the new Las Vegas Lights FC of the United Soccer League, how do crank up the PR buzz?
Well, you just roll with it. You roll out the grassy turf that will cover the dirt at the Cashman Field ball field you are sharing with the Pacific Coast League’s Las Vegas 51s.
Effervescent Las Vegas Lights FC owner Brett Lashbrook has such an upbeat personality that he can pretty much drum up any idea to attract a local TV station to grab some free PR.
And this morning at 8 a.m., he had plastic shot glasses filled with blades of grass to hand out to anyone willing to show up for the start of the turf work by Lashbrook’s grass vendor, World Sports Solutions International.
“We have included fans in every stage. Why do this milestone in a vacuum? When we’re done, you won’t know Cashman is a baseball field,” Lashbrook said. (The Las Vegas 51s play their last season at Cashman this season and then move to a new ballpark in Summerlin for 2019.)
One of the most important parts of the turf installation is that once the rolls of turf are rolled out, they need to be packed as tightly together as possible to avoid having seams. The Lights play three preseason games at Cashman Feb. 10, 17 and 24 and 17 home games starting in March. The Lights’ home schedule is loaded with Saturday night games and only one home game in July when the weather is super hot.
Lights midfielder Julian Portugal told LVSportsBiz.com he played for a USL team in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the field there was also a baseball field. He noted the turf covering the ball field dirt in Tulsa felt loose, but was optimistic that this turf will be better here at Cashman.
LVSportsBiz.com had a pleasant chat with Kelly Mattson, sports turf manager for World Sports Solutions, about how much turf is takes to get the Cashman Field playing surface ready for soccer.
Mattson said 16,000 square feet — 50 rolls — of the turf will be applied to the Cashman Field ground, covering the dirt infield and running lanes along first and third base.
Every roll weighs a meaty 3,500 pounds.
And it costs $1.10 per square foot.
The soccer field conversion also includes an excavator removing the pitcher’s mound. Hard to believe, but 12 tons of an infill mix and a special clay is needed for a pitcher’s mound.
Mattson explained the game day ready turf is an inch and a quarter thick, so the sheer weight of the turf keeps the portable grass in place.
When LVSportsBiz.com joked that the grass smelled like marijuana, Mattson laughed and said, “That would cost a lot more to roll out.”
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