“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,” said D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. “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.”
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 Arizona Diamondbacks are known as an innovative franchise in their approach to so many areas of their business and we’re very excited for the opportunity to work with them on this project,” said Vice President of Shaw Turf Chuck McClurg. “Throughout our discussion, they have prioritized player safety as their top goal and we are confident that the product we deliver will be an exceptionally consistent, top-of-the-line playing surface that will mimic the best natural playing surfaces in Major League Baseball today.”
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.
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.
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.