- Associated Press - Saturday, July 5, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - An Indianapolis sports park that has been the subject of dispute since Mayor Greg Ballard announced it would host a national cricket tournament is coming in under budget, but only because city leaders have scaled back the project due to costs.

The World Sports Park will cost about $900,000 less than its projected $6 million because some planned features proved too costly. That forced the city to cut one field and eliminate a concession pavilion and some parking, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1r5PLtb ).

“When we got some of the prices, some of the bidding, some of the things that we were looking at trying to install, it was more expensive than we anticipated,” city engineer Andy Lutz told the Board of Public Works in June, noting that building the park to its original specifications would have brought its cost to $10 million.

Ballard disclosed plans for the park in April 2013 during a trip to India during which he announced that the city would host a U.S. cricket championship game. The announcement caught many City-County Council members by surprise as they were focused on paring the city’s budget in anticipation of a large shortfall.

A three-year deal to host a USA Cricket Association tournament was touted as a revenue generator. But those plans fell through in May, when the city canceled plans for the tournament because of organizational dysfunction at the association.

Now Lutz says maintenance costs of the 48-acre park will be included in the same budget that covers 207 other city parks.

Those costs could be significant.

A turf expert from the United Kingdom said keeping up the cricket pitches, which are at the heart of the game, will require special knowledge.

“I don’t know the climate of Indianapolis, but unless you have regular rainfall, the irrigation needs will be high and maintenance is a daily job,” Andy Carmichael, sportsturf tutor at the Institute of Groundsmanship, said in an email.

Cricket fields are made up of circles 150 yards in diameter with a playing “square” in the center. It takes more than a day to prepare a pitch for play, so a typical cricket square holds several pitches, Carmichael said. The pitch is built from 6 inches of clay soil with grass cut to 3 millimeters, he said.

The effect is like a “very fast golf green,” he said.

Department of Public Works spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson said city maintenance crews have been trained in the upkeep of cricket pitches.

The changes to the park won’t affect its ability to host tournaments, Lutz said. The fields are in demand by local groups organizing Australian-rules football, rugby and Gaelic games, which include hurling, he noted.

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Information from: Indianapolis Business Journal, http://www.ibj.com