Track renovation could help local high schools

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) It's a dirty job. Crews are tearing up the warning track at Greater Nevada Field.

"We opened up in 2009. This is the first time we're tearing it out, so it's old dirt now and it's time for an upgrade," says Jackson Gaskins, Communications Manager for the Reno Aces and Reno 1868 FC.

It will be quite an upgrade. Crews are replacing the old dirt with higher quality gravel that will improve draining. Gaskins says next season, when it rains before or during games, fans won't have to wait as long as they've had in the past for the material in the track to dry out. That's something that was a problem and caused some delays last season.

"It was one of the wettest seasons in Northern Nevada and it was tough," says Gaskins. "We had a lot of games where it would rain or snow."

The warning track isn't just any track. Outfielders depend on feeling its texture under their feet when making plays so they know how close they are to the wall, to avoid running into it.

"It's a huge deal," says Gaskins. "It comes down to player safety and making sure our players are confident in their footing. We don't want anyone to hurt themselves at all. They're one step away from the big leagues and potentially achieving their lifelong dream and we want to aid in that process, not hinder it."

But the dirt that's being hauled away isn't bad.

"This is a great material, it's just in a wrong setting," says Joe Hill, Operations Manager for Greater Nevada Field. In fact, Hill says the current dirt is better used in an infield and that's exactly what local high schools may be able to do with it. Hill says the dirt will be donated to a handful of local high schools in the Washoe County School District, where it can be used by younger athletes.

"We're giving it away," says Hill "We don't want anything for it. We just want it to go to a good home. This material is a little pricey, so they're getting a good product."

The track renovation started more than a week ago and should be done by the end of this week. While fans may hardly notice a difference in the way the track looks, once it's time to play ball, players will feel the difference. And the field should be more prepared for what could be another very wet season.