The Arizona Diamondbacks are going away from natural grass next season.
The team announced Friday that it will install synthetic grass at Chase Field in partnership with Shaw Sports Turf. The high-performance B1K™ surface is designed specifically for baseball and is expected to be ready for Opening Day 2019.
“Our Baseball Operations staff has completed extensive research, including site visits and player testing and we are all in agreement that this is the best decision for our franchise,” D-Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said in a release. “Research has shown the performance and health benefits associated with playing on this surface that did not previously exist, which factored heavily into our decision. Additionally, our ability to keep the roof closed during the summer months will allow Chase Field to remain at a perfect temperature for our fans, which has become increasingly difficult over the last several years.
“The challenges with growing natural grass in our climate and stadium have been well documented and we have considered alternate solutions for many years. We decided to make this change because the technology developed by Shaw is the best in existence and will provide a consistent playing surface and benefits to our players on the field while enhancing our fan experience throughout the ballpark.”
Notable moments at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks
Details on the turf
The “Batting a Thousand” Natural Turf (B1K) is a dual fiber system comprised of Shaw’ high-performance Strenexe® XD slit film and Shaw’s Bolt® monofilament. This system provides high durability and functionality by preventing the infill from “splashing,” maintaining adequate infill levels across the field. The Bolt fiber provides excellent ball roll, friction and natural grass aesthetics, ensuring that the playing surface at Chase Field will appear nearly identical to that which has been in place since the stadium opened in 1998, including the dirt path between the mound and home plate.
The Geofill® Performance Infill within the blades forms a firm surface similar to natural soil with lower energy rebound levels identical to high-performance natural grass. The result is a more natural playing posture and motion from the players, creating less fatigue as their bodies will not have to overcompensate for the “bounciness” of the surface. The B1K surface also creates natural baseball bounce, allowing players to charge the ball confidently while fielding.
MORE: Chase Field has seen a little bit of everything through the years
The D-Backs’ commitment to sustainability also played a role in the change, as the Geofill infill is made from natural materials that are environmentally friendly. In addition to conserving cooling energy by keeping the roof closed during the daytime, the transition to a synthetic playing surface is expected to provide 90% savings — nearly two million gallons — in water consumption each season by requiring less water to maintain the system.
With improved technology over the last several years, synthetic grass surfaces have become commonplace throughout collegiate and professional sports, with 14 of the 32 NFL teams using synthetic grass, including the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals as well as numerous college football and baseball powerhouses. Notable collegiate programs include Louisiana State University, Brigham Young University, Vanderbilt University, University of Missouri, Virginia Tech and Colorado State University, among others.
New turf at Salt River Fields
Shaw Sports Turf will partner with Arizona-based Lloyd Civil & Sports Engineering as well as Fields Inc., an industry leader in synthetic field construction to deliver the playing field in time for the 2019 season. Various fields at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick will also be outfitted with the Shaw Sports Turf synthetic grass this offseason in order to allow players at all levels of the organization to utilize the new playing surface.
Impact on college football bowl game, other events?
Officials at the Fiesta Bowl, which puts on the Cheez-It Bowl game, said they are looking at options to play on the artificial turf or lay grass on top of it.
“We still have to work through the details… but we’re not worried,” Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Mike Nealy told The Arizona Republic on Friday.
Event organizers this summer wondered whether artificial turf would make it difficult to transform the field for concerts, professional wrestling or the Cheez-It Bowl.
The game will be played Dec. 26.