Roanoke men describe transforming stadium for MLB season opener - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke men describe transforming stadium for MLB season opener

Updated:
SALEM, VA - Two Roanoke men are working on waking up at the right time in the morning after returning from the land down under where they helped make Major League Baseball history. These two locals are now back from Australia where they transformed a cricket stadium into a field of dreams.

Two Roanoke men helped make the first ever Major League Baseball season opener in Australia possible. "They got that feeling that they'd walked into a Major League stadium in another country," Murray Cook said of the fans who walked into a transformed Sydney Cricket Ground. "That was the goal we were looking for, that experience."

WATCH TIME LAPSE VIDEO OF THE CRICKET STADIUM TRANSFORMATION

Cook and Chad Kropff, both Salem High School graduates, both work in the business. Cook has been developing ballparks for Major League Baseball for three decades. The field coordinator says it took 14 months to plan the transformation. He and his crew had just 16 days to actually build it so it would be ready for a two-game series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"It's such a much larger scale because it included more than just the field." Sydney Cricket Ground, a multi-use sports facility required mounds, bullpens, fencing, padding, batting tunnels and dugouts be built before the first pitch could be thrown.

Cook says it required a lot of hustling to get it done in a relatively short time frame. "Yeah, and the right people," he said.

Chad Kropff was one of the crew members. The manager of turf and and outdoor facilities for recreation sports at Virginia Tech says it was an exciting experience. "Once we were on the field and pulled the tarp, people were going crazy," he said. "They loved that."

The idea of giving fans the baseball experience was the goal going in. Cook says the team pulled it off. "People came up to me and said you know what, I feel like I'm at the ballpark. Even in the concession stands, they were selling two foot long hot dogs. They were $40 each. They sold out."

The idea of selling baseball to a larger audience and developing the game around the world is even bigger. "With that comes more exposure, more players, more guys competing. It's a good thing."

Cook says they're now working to develop the game around the world and "looking at other countries now to play the game."

Since the season opener between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, the stadium has already been reverted to a multi--use facility. It's been flipped back to cricket mode and grassed over again. Cook explains the change can be done easily. There's an actual concrete hole in the ground on both sides of the field that are covered up with seats for SCG games. "If they want to bring baseball back, they just have to take the metal covers off to play ball."

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