Pipe, stormwater management turns property into 'Field of Dreams'

Feb. 10, 2023
Built next to the famous Field of Dreams movie field, the stadium now has a HDPE corrugated pipe system to prevent saturation after storms.

Large diameter corrugated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe recently helped transform a field of mud into a "field of dreams.” Built next to the famous Field of Dreams movie field, the stadium pays homage to Comiskey Park where the Chicago White Sox played from 1910 to 1990. The stadium holds 8,000 and has hosted major league baseball games between the Sox and the New York Yankees plus the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds.   

“This field would not be up to major league playing standards without the underground stormwater system,” said David M. Fink, president of the Plastics Pipe Institute, Inc. (PPI). “The corn field location is a flood plain. And while this might help keep crops irrigated, it’s not the ideal area for a baseball field that would be prone to ponding. Our manufacturing members have provided systems for many major league stadiums that seat more than 50,000. The reason is simple. The excellent drainage that an HDPE corrugated pipe system provides makes the field much more playable.”   

Due to the area’s tendency to get saturated during a storm, both small and large diameter corrugated pipes were used and designed along with other water management products. The smaller diameter pipes are connected to flat strip drains to collect water from both the infield and the outfield. Tying multiple drainage lines together is a 24-inch diameter collector pipe that runs the length of the field from left field to right field approximately midway between the edge of the infield and the outfield fence. This pipe conveys the water off the high-performance, sand-based field into a detention basin, before feeding into the nearby Hewitt Creek. A French drain using perforated HDPE pipe runs along the edge of the outfield. The underground system has 24 inches of cover that includes coarse clean sand. Two Harco drain basins were used. 

The project used corrugated HDPE pipe from Prinsco, Inc. (Willmar, MN). Prinsco’s GOLDFLO WT® product line was selected in both watertight and perforated versions. There were 400 feet of 24-inch perforated, 220 feet of 24 inch watertight and 320 feet of perforated six-inch pipe used. The slope of the pipe was .05%, so the GOLDFLOW pipe’s Manning’s “N” value of 0.012 was an important benefit. The smooth interior of the double-walled pipe would aid in the system’s hydraulic performance, moving water quickly.  

For the French drain, 300 feet of Prinsco’s GOLDLINE® soil-tight HDPE pipe was installed. Located less than an hour drive from the site, Prinsco’s Jesup, Iowa, facility met the demand for the project. 

Jacob Woelmer, of Stantec and the civil engineer on the project, noted that because the site is on a flood plain, the field had to be raised and the surrounding areas had special design considerations to meet the flood plain environmental requirement.   

“This ballpark needed a product not limited by standard lengths and rigid installations methods,” Daniel Currence, P.E. director of engineering for the Drainage Division of PPI, said. “This job required pipe that could be easily moved, adjusted on-site and connected at the site to accommodate the placement requirements. There were multiple angles and tapped connections. The custom configurations were easy to fabricate right there to meet the design standards because this was design-build project due to the nature of the landscape.”  

On the project, more than 12,000 feet of 12-inch Hydraway sub-surface drainage units were installed flat to handle the specified percolation rate of 18 to 28-inches of rain an hour. “This meant that a rainfall event where even if three inches of water an hour came down an hour before the game, it would be channeled off the field with no rain delay,” said Jim Surrell of Hydraway. “While there was no rain on game day, the night before, the field did receive 2.5-inches of rain, and because of the drainage system, the field crew was able to mow the field the morning of the game.” 

The next ‘dream’ for the site is an $80 million expansion of the site that will include new diamonds and a hotel. Construction is expected to start late summer 2023. 

About the Author

Steve Cooper

Steve Cooper is a Regional Engineer for the PVC Pipe Association. He has reported on water industry projects for several decades, conducting interviews with professional engineers, contractors, government officials and representatives of major companies supplying the industry. He is a member of the PVC pipe