The Brooklyn Cyclones will play home games on artificial turf this year, and the grass at the city-owned ballpark in Coney Island has already been ripped up and replace with the synthetic kind, the team announced today.
The grounds at MCU Park was switched from natural grass to artificial turf as part of the stadium’s post-superstorm Sandy repairs — defying a 20-year trend in professional baseball toward natural grass fields.
Clones spokesman Jason Solomon said the single-A team decided on the change-up as a precaution against another storm like Sandy — which swamped the field, along with the rest of the People’s Playground — and because it would allow the stadium to host more off-season events.
“Heaven forbid we get hit with another Sandy, the FieldTurf would hold up better,” said Solomon. “And it opens us up to possibly holding more events during the year without having to worry about whether the grass would be dead.”
Solomon said the decision to make the switch was made by Cyclones and Mets brass. The Mets own the Cyclones.
The move makes MCU Park the only professional baseball field in New York to play games on something other than grass. Calls to find out if the field on far-off Staten Island where the hated Staten Island Yankees play games at a bay-side ballpark that also was battered by Sandy will be switched to fake grass were not returned in time for our online deadline.
In the Major Leagues, all National League teams play on grass, and in the American League, only the Toronto Blue Jays’ Rogers Centre and the Tampa Bay Rays’ Tropicana Field use synthetic turf. But for years starting in the 1960s, many pros played on the fake stuff, which traditionalists complain change the game for the worse by speeding up batted ground balls, and is considered by many to be harder on players’ bodies than natural grass.
Those points were made clear by fans who fear the new surface will make going out to the ballpark a less-enjoyable experience.
“I hope the artificial turf is only for a year,” said legendary Brooklyn Cyclones columnist Ed Shakespeare. “A grass field is aesthetically pleasing, better for the players’ bodies, and gives a traditional bounce to a baseball. The trend is to go away from artificial turf.”
Shakespeare, a bard of baseball who has covered the Cyclones since the team’s inception in 2001, is an unabashed purist who questions the very idea of synthetic grass.
“If artificial turf is so nice, why don’t more people have it instead of lawns,” he said.
The scent of grass is also one of the hallmarks of the National Pastime.
In fact, Cyclones Assistant General Manager Kevin Mahoney claims on the team’s webpage that his favorite smell is fresh-cut grass — something he won’t be able to find at work this year.
Tickets go on sale May 11 for the 2013 season that gets underway June 18. The Clones will take on their bitter rivals, the Staten Island Yankees — who will appear to be restoring their Sandy-swamped field with actual grass.Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderma