KANNAPOLIS — Milestone strides continue as the Kannapolis Sports and Entertainment Venue gets ready for the 2020 baseball season.

Crews are laying down the final rolls of sod at the baseball stadium, which will be completed by the time the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers play their first home game April 16.

“To me, this is one of the most important milestones in the construction of the Sports and Entertainment Venue because placement of the sod, in my mind, means we are one step closer to completing the facility,” said outgoing city of Kannapolis Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Roger Haas.

A lot has happened in downtown Kannapolis within the last year.

The city began construction on the Sports and Entertainment Venue in October 2018.

The Chicago White Sox’s single-A affiliate played its last game as the Intimidators at the old stadium in September and then held a public event in October to announce its name change to the Cannon Ballers.

On Friday morning, city of Kannapolis officials, Cannon Ballers team officials and representatives who worked on the project provided a progress report on the construction of the facility.

“The addition of the natural- grass surface is a game-changer in the progress of this project. It now feels and looks like a baseball field and brings opening day of this tremendous facility into focus for our fans,” said Cannon Ballers Operating Partner, Scotty Brown.

Over the course of three days, local workers with North Carolina-based Carolina Green placed more than 100,000 square feet of a custom-grown, sand-base Bermuda grass product named GameOnGrass.

The specific type of grass installed at the SEV is called Latitude 36, a variety well-suited for baseball in this region based on its characteristics of improved wear and cold tolerance, plus its ability to coexist with rye grass in the spring.

Carolina Green has worked for more than 10 years developing this engineered, sand-base system.

The playing surface is designed similarly to most professional sports fields, with a United States Golf Association sand-base profile similar to a golf green.

Officials say the main advantage to this system is drainage.

The surface is 1½-inch-thick GameOnGrass, which is composed of sand to allow drainage. Below the sod is 10 inches of sand, with peat moss added that will drain in excess of 20 inches per hour. Below the sand root zone are a 4-inch gravel blanket, irrigation lines and perforated drain lines on 20-foot centers.

The infield-skinned area is a mix from Pennsylvania used by many professional teams. The field is composed of 5,000 tons of root-zone sand, 2,000 tons of drainage gravel, 7,000 feet of drainage pipe and 10,000 feet of irrigation pipe.

“This is one of a series of landmark events that we’ve experienced this off- season,” Brown said.

“We see this as another one of those huge events that’s going to lead into a huge successful debut of the Cannon Ballers.”

The construction of the Sports and Entertainment Venue, led by general contractor Barton Malow and architectural firm Populous, is about 80 percent complete.

Situated in the center of the city of Kannapolis, the $52 million venue will seat nearly 5,000 spectators for baseball games and even more for extra events like concerts, festivals and other community events.

The downtown revitalization efforts include new restaurants, retail shops, a new brewery and apartment complexes.

Officials said the stadium will be open every day for visitors and used as a public park and meeting space.

“We are going to try and convert the Kannapolis Sports and Entertainment Venue into a state fair, a circus, a carnival every night,” Brown said.

“This is a top-notch facility that the entire team has put together for us. There’s going to be a lot of fun and activities that go on, but the main event happens on that green grass on that field.”