Citi Field ready for transformation from baseball field to soccer pitch for Ecuador-Greece match

Michael Gianaris

June 06, 2011

The Daily News wrote about the Greece-Ecuador soccer game to take place on Tuesday, June 7. The article included a photo of Senator Gianaris and Assemblyman Moya from the press conference they participated in to promote the game.

For David Wright, the dimensions of Citi Field may be overwhelming.

But for a soccer game, there's just enough warning track.

Without having to move any walls or cut out any seats, the Mets groundskeeping crew will begin to transform the diamond and outfield into a FIFA-regulation-sized soccer field following Sunday night's game against the Braves.

Their time is limited before the inaugural soccer match Tuesday night at 8 p.m., an exhibition match between Greece and Ecuador. Director of Field Operations Bill Deacon and his crew lost seven hours because Sunday night's game was picked as ESPN's Sunday Night Game of the Week, moving the first pitch from about 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

So beginning at 3 a.m. Monday morning, Deacon and Co. will begin to remove two-thirds of the infield dirt, replacing it with sod, leaving an entirely grass 110-by-70 yard soccer field. One goal will be somewhere around third base, the other goal in deep right field. They plan is to be putting the finishing touches on the field Tuesday with the bulk of the work being done Monday.

"We're cutting it close with the timing," said Deacon, who helped perform a similar transformation at PETCO Park when he worked for the Padres.

This was part of the vision the Wilpons had when they built the $850 million stadium. Shea was a frequent soccer venue and Vice President Dave Howard said they had planned to bring games to Citi Field last year before negotiations fell through because of scheduling conflicts.

By securing Ecuador and Greece, they have teams with huge fanbases in Queens. There are more Ecuadorians and Greeks in the borough than anywhere else in the world outside their respective home countries. So even though we're talking about a mediocre matchup -- Greece was given a generous No. 12 ranking in the latest FIFA poll, and Ecuador is No. 64 -- the Mets are expecting a much bigger crowd than for their baseball games.

Read the full article here.