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New mound removal system key toward hosting two sports at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma

Cheney Stadium in Tacoma: The longtime home of the Rainiers...

The brand new home of S2...

“This is super exciting for us,” said Nick Cherniske, operations manager at Cheney Stadium.

Exciting – yet challenging – with 18,000 square feet of sod going over the warning track and infield for soccer matches… removable paint for soccer lines, and, oh yeah, the soccer field configuration going right over…. the pitcher’s mound.

“That was most definitely the largest hurdle to overcome – was the mound itself,” Cherniske said.

Cue Josh Harris at Integrity Construction, the man tasked with coming up with a solution – a one-piece modular system that includes a trailer and a crane, with the capacity to pick up a 22,000-lb steel mound with clay packed on top, and replace it with a 12,000-lb turf module for soccer games.

“It’s just plug and play,” Harris said. “And a little transitional landscaping work to do around the module.”

We were there when they tested the module for the very first time.

“The error margin’s within a quarter of an inch,” Harris said.

It’s a precedent that was set at the Oakland Coliseum, having to switch between major league baseball with the A’s and NFL football with the Raiders.

“We’ve made some adjustments along the way to accommodate for easy transition and for some of the technical things – cleats for soccer players. Turf being able to be pushed out…. The mound having enough clay for the pitchers,” Harris said.

Added Cherniske: “The biggest component for us is going to be player safety in both aspects. Beyond that, the aesthetic is a huge component.”

Especially for soccer supporters who are very particular.

“Oh, it’ll look very much like a soccer field and not like a baseball field,” Cherniske said.

“It’s gonna feel good to see this thing work and go back and forth. I hope it works out successfully, because my seats are right over there, so if not, I might be wearing a brown paper sack or I might be missing some game, but we have it dialed in – it’s gonna go smoothly,” Harris said.