Inside the Story: Transforming Greater Nevada Field into a home for Reno 1868

Reno 1868 FC faces the San Jose Earthquakes at Greater Nevada Field in Reno on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 (SBG)

This Saturday, Reno's new soccer team, Reno 1868 FC, will have its regular season opener at Greater Nevada Field. Shortly after that, the Reno Aces will have their home opener on the very same field.

For the grounds-keeping crew, it’s a true juggling act to prepare for two sports in the same stadium.

It's not unheard of, but it is unusual - two teams from two different sports sharing the same field during the same season.

“I think the first consideration was whether or not we could maintain a world class surface for both sports,” said Eric Edelstein, president for both the Reno 1868 and Reno Aces.

The first step was finding a groundskeeper who could handle the juggling act. His name is Joe Hill. He's got major league experience with the Mets, Mariners and Red Sox, but took the job in Reno for the challenge of taking on two different sports.

“It was a major attraction for me having two sports, and it's a huge challenge,” said Hill. “I've never done it before, and it felt like something that was going to be a great move for my career."

The main transformation from the baseball field to a soccer pitch takes place on the left side of the infield. There, the dirt is covered up with landscape fabric and then sod.

The goal is making it an almost perfect match with the outfield grass.

“We taper it, so when this sod comes in it matches perfectly and is perfectly flat,” explains Hill.

There's going to be a handful of really quick turnarounds between the two sports at Greater Nevada Field, but none more crucial then July 4th weekend, when they'll be playing soccer on the 3rd and baseball the very next day.

“It's an all-hands-on-deck when we have a short window like that,” says Hill. “We will have to have everybody involved. Everybody does their part, and we couldn't do it without that team.”

The general manager of the soccer team, Andy Smith, calls the balancing act amazing - immaculate for his team and the baseball guys.

“The grass they've been growing off-site matches what we have here in the outfield. And when they line it up, he dials it in and it's just beautiful,” says Smith.

Hill adds, “The most important thing is that they're both our teams and we want them to have the best field that they can have, so we shoot for that every single time.”

The time is now for their very first test this weekend against Orange County SC.

If you can't make it to the game, My21 Reno will have every Reno 1868 home game live.

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