BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – Eleven days. In 11 short days, the Kokomo Jackrabbits baseball team is scheduled to play its inaugural home opener, and in the process play the first game at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. For nearly a year, eyes have been focused on the construction project in downtown with most wondering, “will it be ready in time?”
On May 18, experts from Sprinturf said the field will be ready. Standing on the stadium surface, Randy Hammond, a Kokomo resident and central regional sales manager for Sprinturf, watched as his crews crawled around on hands and knees installing new green synthetic turf. The turf arrived in Kokomo via a semi in 15-foot wide, 150-foot long rolls. Once the turf is in place, a mixture of 60 percent crumb rubber and 40 percent sand will be added as infill. Looking up at onlookers, Hammond said the turf would be complete by Sunday, May 24.
Among those onlookers were Chuck and Barbara Coghlin from Colorado Springs, Colo. They were in town to get their son, Charlie, settled with a foster family. He is a Jackrabbits infielder who just finished his junior season at NCAA Division I St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Charlie hit .308 and played first base for the Hawks. Barbara said she was excited to see the progress of the new stadium, and after a quick trip back to Colorado, would be back in Kokomo for opening night.
Crews from Custer Electric Sports Lighting were also hard at work installing the field lights. J&J Electric had several trucks at the stadium as crews worked to finish the press box and suite level of the stadium. Also, contractors continued to install red stadium seats and green padding on the outfield walls, and the black Daktronics scoreboard is now on site and ready for installation.
The bottom line: According to one contractor on site, the stadium will not be 100 percent done; there will be landscaping and other construction projects ongoing after the scheduled May 30 opening day. But, baseball WILL be played on May 30. The field will be done, lights will be on, the scoreboard illuminated and the seats installed. As they say in the baseball world, “Play ball!”