News “Dirty” Deeds (not at all) Done Dirt Cheap

“Dirty” Deeds (not at all) Done Dirt Cheap

Tim Goodridge, Assistant General Manager August 24th, 2021

I’m back this week to really dish up the ‘dirt’ on dirt. Most people don’t know what it takes to transform MetraPark from hosting Professional Bull Riders to basketball games or that the dirt used for barrel racing versus roping versus monster truck races is all vastly different. At MetraPark, we do the dirty work.

First of all, any event that requires dirt requires a lot of it. You may have noticed the towering dirt piles behind MetraPark. These are carefully separated from other soils. Depending on the monthly mix, sometimes our ag/equestrian events and rodeos can fall right between a monster truck rally (with its own different dirt) and a basketball tournament (with its own entirely different floor).

And as mentioned, depending on the nature of the event, this dirt needs to be sifted, raked and cleaned to meet a range of standards. For motorsports, it doesn’t have to be perfectly pristine and stone -free but for anything ag or equestrian-related… it definitely does. We have large shakers, graders and heavy equipment to do the job as well as a maintenance team who are incredibly skilled and efficient.

Once we transport (literally) tons of dirt into the arena with enormous earth movers, we level, check it for even depth and compact it to various degrees to protect the animals and meet the specific demands of the horse-owners and rodeo stars.

To a barrel racer, dirt is extremely important. Horses in this category need solid footing to make the tight turns around the barrels. MetraPark staff also rakes the floor in between each race to prepare the soil for the next competitor. There’s a standing joke that says, ask any arena dirt worker why barrel racers have to be cremated and they’ll tell you—because the dirt’s never good enough.

For motorsports, it’s a whole different story. Once we truck all that dirt inside, load after load, the work has only just begun. We have to shape the courses, build the jumps and compact the soil to make it safe and solid.

Depending on the time of year (like for our Chase Hawks rodeo in December and our monster truck rally in February) we have to bring the dirt inside well ahead of time to allow it to thaw before we can do anything else. Moisture content is also a huge consideration regardless of the season. It can’t be too wet for the animals or too dry for MetraPark spectators. No one wants to watch an indoor rodeo in a giant dust bowl.

Clean-up is no easy thing either. Once the rodeo or dirt-related event is over, we need to immediately begin moving all that dirt back outside and ‘scrub’ the whole arena. And it’s amazing – that dirt finds itself all over the concourses, the seating and even in the bathrooms. A huge shoutout to our Metra staff and our partner, VIP Services, for cleaning up our fun messes.

We store and maintain our dirt as well as all of our heavy dirt-working equipment and have a great team of people who know exactly what they’re doing. It’s hugely labor intensive, and it’s not cheap, but this makes MetraPark unique – as does the fact that our facilities can host and manage dirt events (rodeos) and our fair (simultaneously) – and that we can have a rodeo one day and concert the next. Most comparable event spaces and venues are exclusively one default floor or the other. We are truly incredible and unique in our industry!

We’ve got some great events coming up—dirt-related and not. Check out or follow us on Facebook to see what’s happening.