Pirates Charities and The Heinz Endowments -- in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, Astorino and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy -- officially re-dedicated Sanguigni Field in Brighton Heights on July 7, 2011. The field is part of the John Merry Sports Complex and home to more than 300 youth baseball and softball players.
The field was selected by Pirates Charities and the City of Pittsburgh because it was in need of renovation and had significant water drainage and erosion issues caused by the topography of the field. With the guidance of Astorino, an overall renovation plan was developed to address the water problem using green practices. In fact, environmentally-friendly elements were used throughout the project.
"We are proud to bring this group of partners together to rebuild this field and make a long-term positive impact in our community," Bob Nutting, the Chairman of the Board of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pirates Charities said. "Not only have we helped to rebuild a ball field in the Brighton Heights community, we were able to show how such projects can be done in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way."
"This is a great day for our young people and for Pittsburgh's Third Renaissance," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. "This new and improved ball field provides improved recreational opportunities for our youths and at the same time teaches them the value of going green. Our city's rebirth is not just about new skyscrapers Downtown, but ensuring that the quality of life in our neighborhoods gets even better for the young people of Pittsburgh."
The green features incorporated into the project include a bio-retention swale in the outfield that catches rain water before it reaches the playing field, the addition of a rain garden to avert downstream flooding, and the installation of a pervious concrete sidewalk and a grass-pave system that allows water to percolate into the ground while providing support for maintenance vehicles. Recycled and locally-sourced materials were used in the construction wherever possible.
In addition, both dugouts were refurbished (rather than replaced) using sustainable plywood with a low volatile organic compound (VOC) stain. This stain minimizes the negative effects that standard stains and paints with a high VOC have on the environment and the health of people who come in contact with them. The new backstop was made from recycled rubber truck tires.
A solar-powered waste receptacle and scoreboard were also added to promote recycling and save electricity. The waste receptacle will reduce the amount of materials that end up in landfills and the scoreboard will use 120 times less power than traditional electric scoreboards.
"The Pittsburgh Pirates' significant commitment to environmentally-friendly business practices has set a national standard for professional sports," The Heinz Endowments President Robert Vagt said. "We are proud to be a partner with Pirates Charities in a project where our two most precious assets interact -- children and community recreational spaces. There is nothing quite like a transformed neighborhood ball field to teach young people fundamental values -- from sportsmanship and fair play to sustainable design and good environmental stewardship."
The playing surface at Sanguigni Field was revitalized through aeration and over-seeding. That meant new sod was not necessary, avoiding the need to dispose of the old sod in a landfill. New landscaping, including the installation of the rain garden by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, was added adjacent to the playing field and several trees were planted to improve air quality and provide natural shade. The new trees are all native or adapted landscape species.
"The Brighton Heights Athletic Association is honored and thankful for the generosity of Pirates Charities and The Heinz Endowments," said Mike Gavlik, the President of the Brighton Heights Athletic Association. "Their efforts have revived our little league field and raised the level of pride within our organization. All our coaches, players and parents have looked forward to this field coming to fruition and now it has -- and it will be here for years to come."
The Sanguigni Field renovation project is an extension of the Pirates "Fields for Kids" and "Let's Go Bucs, Let's Go Green" programs. "Fields for Kids" is in its third year and has provided more than $290,000 via 69 individual grants for youth baseball and softball organizations in the Pittsburgh area to renovate their fields. The "Let's Go Bucs, Let's Go Green" initiative began in 2008 at PNC Park and emphasizes recycling, composting, and water and energy conservation. As a result of these green practices, today 44 percent of the waste generated at PNC Park is recycled rather than disposed of in landfills. That's among the highest diversion rates in Major League Baseball.
During his remarks at the press conference where the new Sanguigni Field was unveiled on July 7, Pirates President Frank Coonelly said:
"What this does is educate young people on sustainable business practices that are not only good for the environment, but good for the business as well. That educational component is something we always strive to meet with Pirates Charities, and this field is a place the people of Brighton Heights can be proud of for a very long time. It's their field now and it's their responsibility to keep it as beautiful as it is today. So enjoy the field. I hope you have a great time."
"This project exists at a really important intersection because our children and our green spaces are our community's most important assets," Wayne Jones added on behalf of The Heinz Endowments. "I always point to the Pirates as leaders in these types of efforts. It's clear that the values run deep in the organization from Mr. Nutting and Mr. Coonelly on down. We're always impressed when we see what they've done. They're trailblazers and I hope their work is replicated by others. Sanguigni Field should be a model for future field restorations around the country."