The Dayton Dragons did not give the cost for the field reconstruction, but the work is being paid for with funds raised by the owners and contributed by the city of Dayton, Montgomery County and the state of Ohio.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the park was closed for more than year and drawing no revenue from ticket sales, the city contributed $6 million from federal COVID relief funds funds in 2022 that will help team owner Palisades Arcadia Baseball make the major upgrades.
In 2022, the team said it was investing about $5 million of its own money into the facility and also has a $4 million commitment from Montgomery County and a $1.5 million state capital grant from pandemic-related funding. Since then, the state has given $3.5 million in additional funding, bringing the total investment for upgrades to more than $20 million.
“The field reconstruction is a major project, the first of many coming to Day Air Ballpark,” said Robert Murphy, Dragons president and general manager, in a statement. “The new field will not only have a major league look but will also feature greatly improved drainage capacity to shorten or in some cases, eliminate rain delays going forward.”
The team also is replacing heating and air units and the roof of the stadium, Murphy said. The LED signage boards along the outfield also will be replaced.
The stadium, built in 2000, cost about $23 million, and the city pitched in more than $13 million for that project.
Team ownership has invested more than $24 million into the ballpark, Murphy said, and the Dayton Dragons organization has had a big economic impact on downtown and the quality of life in the surrounding area.
“We’re grateful for the stakeholders here who have seen how important the ball park is to the city and the region. We are appreciative of the city of Dayton, county and the state of Ohio for supplying us with the funds to help make this happen,” Murphy said.
The field work is being done by The Motz Group, a Southwest Ohio company that has previously completed field renovations for the Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Ravens, FC Cincinnati and the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Dragons said.
Motz began excavating the current field last week, with plans to remove more than 7,000 tons of sand, clay and sod. HGT Kentucky Bluegrass grown at a sod farm in Maryland will be laid on the field and is expected to be completed prior to the start of the 2024 baseball season, the Dragons said.
The team’s ownership said the work represents the most significant field construction in the history of the ballpark and the first complete field reconstruction since 2011. The original field was constructed in 2000.
“The Motz team is absolutely thrilled and immensely proud to be teaming up with the Dayton Dragons to transform the playing surface at Day Air Ballpark,” said Amy Fouty, field consultant with Motz.
The Dragons open the 2024 season, their 24th in the Midwest League, on April 5 at Day Air Ballpark against the Lansing Lugnuts.