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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Diamond Dirt: Indoor baseball in St. Louis? I say go for it

  • Could the World Baseball Classic or baseball in general take place down the street inside Edward Jones Dome, the home of the NFL's St. Louis Rams?
    “Nothing's impossible,” Gary Schurk, director of sports sales for the Edward Jones Dome, told me this week. “If someone wants to experiment with the dome they could.”
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  • The World Baseball Classic got me thinking a couple weeks ago.
    Obviously it's a big deal to bring together all of these international teams and host a portion of the tournament, but it has been limited in the United States.
    Only cities in pleasant climates during March have hosted games, or cities that have a dome or retractable roof. Which is why we've seen many games played in the U.S. take place in California, Arizona and Florida.
    But what about a baseball-crazy city like St. Louis - more often than not referred to as the best baseball city in America.
    It can be way too cold in March to play a baseball game in Busch Stadium. The brisk Missouri weather just wouldn't allow it.
    So I got to thinking. Could the World Baseball Classic or baseball in general take place down the street inside Edward Jones Dome, the home of the NFL's St. Louis Rams?
    "Nothing's impossible," Gary Schurk, director of sports sales for the Edward Jones Dome, told me this week. "If someone wants to experiment with the dome they could."
    Schurk pointed out numerous times that baseball organizers for any event would be "foolish" to not consider Busch Stadium first, however, when the weather outside doesn't allow for baseball, an indoor contest of the national pastime could very much get the green light.
    "We'd consider it just like the World Cup," Schurk said. "When the World Cup was looking at the United States, we were going to be one of the satellite cities. We would've had to put in grass, and keep grass alive (in the dome). They did that up in Detroit several years ago. We'd never say no if someone came to us like that."
    Nicholas Langella, general manager of the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, is the former general manager of the Edward Jones Dome. He said the Edward Jones Dome could very well host baseball, because the Alamodome just hosted baseball for the first time last week. The Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres brought about 75,000 fans into a facility mostly used for football and once the home of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs.
    "It's very similar-sized facility," Langella said of the Edward Jones Dome. "There's a lot of similarities to it."
    Langella said it was mainly all about communication between the teams and Major League Baseball in proceeding with the event. What worked out well in landing the Padres was the team having their Double-A affiliate in San Antonio. The San Antonio Missions play in the Texas League.
    "There's no reason why (St. Louis) couldn't do the same thing we did," Langella said.
    Astroturf was brought in and the base pits, still seen today in the Toronto Blue Jay's Rogers Centre, were filled with three inches of dirt. Dirt was also laid underneath the turf to help create a more natural feel to the playing surface.
    Page 2 of 2 - "It was really good transparent stuff. Couldn't ask for a better scenario," Langella said. "The focus really was on the game. We wanted to keep the integrity of the game. We had a real great experience."
    Seats were pushed back in such a way the Rangers were given a space to resemble a dugout, since there's no dug-in space in the floor, and the Padres' makeshift dugout was framed off similar to a soccer goal.
    Langella said the iron grid in the roof wasn't an issue. That was one of Schurk's concerns with the Edward Jones Dome's 140-foot distance from the floor, but Langella said Major League Baseball did come in and set ground rules for the facility before games began.
    All I have to say is, "Why not?"
    St. Louis should be able to host an international baseball event like the World Baseball Classic some day, and the cold temperatures of March shouldn't make officials of the World Baseball Classic think otherwise. There is an indoor facility that appears to have the ability to hold baseball, so let's give it a shot. Hold an exhibition game, something. Have the Cardinals play exhibition games before the start of next season in the Edward Jones Dome to show that it can be done. Let it be a bug in the ear of those coordinating the next World Baseball Classic.
    St. Louis is located at the center of the world and it should host an international baseball event.

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