MLB Series Brings Normalcy to Puerto Rico
BrightView Sports Turf, local Puerto Rico team restore baseball field following Hurricane Maria
When Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico last September, sports was the last thing on anybody’s mind, even the island’s beloved pastime, baseball.
The hurricane caused widespread devastation and is considered the worst natural disaster in recorded Puerto Rican history. The storm shut down ports, destroyed crops, and knocked out power throughout the U.S. territory.
Even seven months after Maria hit, Puerto Rico is still working to recover.
“There are still street lights out and light towers blown down that haven’t been picked up yet,” said Murray Cook, President of BrightView Sports Turf. “There is still visible debris and damage in San Juan alone. By far, the island is still in recovery mode.”
The devastation rocked the island’s baseball stadiums, including San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which is to play host to two Major League Baseball games April 17 and 18. Since two of the stadiums were completely demolished, the Puerto Rican Winter League shortened its season to just 18 games and all four teams have to play out of just two ballparks.
Many of the games had to be scheduled for the afternoon to reduce the need for lights since so many people are still without power, including BrightView team members who worked to clear Hiram Bithorn Stadium’s field.
“There are 560 light fixtures around the synthetic turf field at the ballpark,” Cook said. “Probably 85 percent of them broke and shattered, sending shards of glass all over the field. We had to bring in equipment to remove the debris – rubber, screws, glass, and just all kinds of stuff. The contractor hired our local Puerto Rico branch to help on the field.”
Despite the enormous task of restoring the stadium, it wasn’t going to stop the return of baseball with the Winter League and the MLB two-game series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins.
Once the debris was cleared, BrightView Sports Turf helped to resurface the field and home plate and rebuild the pitching mound, along with the normal task of managing the grounds crew and staff with maintenance work and training the tarp crew.
“We’re working side-by-side with a lot of people in the San Juan municipality,” Cook said. “Everybody has a story from the hurricane and they’re all very open talking about what they each went through, and some are still going through.”
For the two big-league games, the first regular-season action on the island since 2010, the MLB is shining some light on the struggles Puerto Rico continues to face. Players from the Twins visited a children’s hospital in San Juan hours after landing, and the Indians are donating their playoff shares from last season to Puerto Rico relief efforts.
“When you talk to everyone here, they all say, ‘We really need this game,’” Cook said. “They’re looking at this as though they are declaring that the hurricane hasn’t beat them – that they are OK.”
Relief and recovery efforts is ongoing in Puerto Rico. In addition to donations from Major League Baseball, its clubs, and players totaling $12 million, it is also raising money from fans through MLB Charities, with a goal of $100,000. To donate, click here.
Industry roundup: BrightView helps restore baseball stadium in Puerto Rico, Total Landscape Care
BrightView is the largest provider of commercial landscaping services in the United States. Through its team of approximately 20,000 employees, BrightView provides services ranging from landscape maintenance and enhancements to tree care and landscape development for thousands of customers’ properties, including corporate and commercial properties, HOAs, public parks, hotels and resorts, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, educational institutions, restaurants and retail, and golf courses, among others. BrightView is the Official Field Consultant to Major League Baseball.
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