GRAND CHUTE - On Wednesday morning at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, the infield was covered in ice and the outfield was blanketed in snow.
The grounds crew is trying to remove the signs of winter before the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers' first game on April 8.
"It's an old groundskeeper's trick; we have used it before: basically what we're doing is rolling out the tarp, putting the dark side of the tarp up. The sun will absorb that and melt it and it'll be surprising how fast that actually does get off the ground," team spokesman Chris Mehring.
It also helps that temperatures will be above freezing. Once we get into April, below-freezing temps aren't usually a problem. The average high for the last five Timber Rattlers home openers has been a balmy 53 degrees, the coolest being 2010's home opener, which saw 46-degree temperatures.
But that doesn't mean wintry weather is unheard of.
That 2010 home opener was actually snowed out in a winter storm. In 2007, temperatures were in the 30s with wind chills in the teens. And in 2003, the Timber Rattlers cancelled their first six home games due to sleet, ice, and snow.
So far this year, though, things are looking up.
"Already you see the infield is almost snow-free, not quite-frost free, but it is snow-free," Mehring said. "We'll just let nature take its course, but like I said, April 8th opening day and we'll be ready for it."
That home opener – weather permitting – is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. against the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
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