Syracuse Chiefs preparing for Opening Day in two weeks

NBT Bank Stadium field cleared of most snow but stands not fully clear yet

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - It may not feel like baseball weather, but the Syracuse Chiefs will open the season at home in two weeks.

The Chiefs will use each day to try to get NBT Bank Stadium ready for the players and the crowds.

One week ago the field had 26 inches of snow on it from the storm that ripped through Central New York.

The Chiefs know how important it is to have a good Opening Day, traditionally one of the biggest crowds of any game all season.

Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol tells NewsChannel 9, “A couple years ago it was 70 degrees and there were 8,000 people here and that resulted in the team making money in the month of April or the first time ever in the history of the team."

The fact the field is as close to playing shape as it is right now is because of the work of Head Groundkeeper John Stewart and his staff.

One of their secrets is black sand regularly sprinkled all over the snow on the field.

Stewart explains, "We were able to take advantage of some sunny days and that sun will heat up the black sand and accelerate the melting process."

Stewart, the 2015 Triple A baseball Groundskeeper of the Year, says uncovering the infield was priority number one, then getting the ground thawed and drying it.

The tarp is covering the infield to help protect it from the predicted rain the next few days.

“We're looking at that forecast like every half hour hoping for more sun.  Two weeks is when we have Opening Day, the players will come before that so we really have a week and a half."  Stewart says.

Just as important as getting the field in shape is having the stands ready for Opening Day and one of the worst areas for them to deal with is right behind home plate according to Smorol.

"The stadium is in this direction for a reason because of where the sun goes they don't want the batters to battle the sun so the sun doesn't shine behind home plate."

Smorol says they’ll be shoveling every day until the stadium is clear of snow and ice.

The first pitch of the season is scheduled for Thursday, April 6 at 2:05 p.m.

Click here for tickets and more information on the Chiefs 2017 season.

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