(VIDEO) -The Peoria Chiefs revival as a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate officially begins Thursday night. And, it's a new challenge for head groundskeeper Mike Reno.
Reno came to Peoria for his wife's job with Caterpillar. His expertise is in sports field landscape, so he applied with the Chiefs and got the gig.
Reno's credentials are impressive. He has worked with both the Miami Dolphins and Marlins. Reno spent 8 years crafting athletic fields at Arizona State University. And he has consulted with the NFL for special playing field projects. Reno also did an internship with the Washington Redskins.
Reno says the Chiefs grass is a combination of bluegrass and rye. He says this is the first time he's ever worked with bluegrass. He says the biggest prioirity at this point is for warmer weather to green the field. Then, through the summer, the big job will be to limit any of the typical summertime grass disease.
Reno says the largest roadblock so far in a northern climate has been mother nature. He says the longer it stays colder, the tougher it is to get the field in perfect condition.
Reno says the extended cold streak hasn't made it easy. But, he says other than waiting for more warm weather, the playing surface is ready.
As for Chiefs Stadium, Reno says it is top notch. He says he would like to meet and thank the people who designed and installed the drainage system, which is key to getting the surface in playing shape after rain.
A lot of scientific advances have been invented for groundskeeping work. Reno implemented one this year by using a "laser leveling" process. But one thing is still done like it always has, that's striping the 1st and 3rd base lines. He says the crew simply uses a taught string to make a straight line.
Even when the game is being played, Reno is busy. He says he watches the weather radar. And, his crew of 4 during games drag the infield several times a game to keep the surface smooth.
The Chiefs host Wisconsin Thursday night. It's Thirsty Thursday and Fireworks will follow the game. The opener is part of a 7 game homestand through Wednesday April 10th.