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How sports played a pivotal role in shaping the synthetic turf industry.

By Denise Valenzuela

Posted in

Synthetic turf was introduced to much fanfare in the 1960s the first major installation was AstroTurf (ChemGrass) at the Houston Astrodome indoor stadium for the Houston Astros. The infield portion was in place before opening day in April; outfield was installed in early summer of 1960!  Can you believe that!  The widespread use and installation of turf for sporting activities played a pivotal role in shaping the plastic turf industry.  Much of the success of the industry rests on the back of athletics and sport.  Because of this we wanted to pay homage to the history of synthetic turf in sporting arenas by providing more information for you.

It was not until the early 1990s when a vastly improved second generation product gained widespread popularity. Then in the late 1990s, an infilled synthetic turf system was introduced that duplicated the look and playability of lush grass, and is the basis for the ever-evolving systems of today.

More than 11,000 synthetic turf sports fields are currently in use throughout the United States. In 2013, between 1,200 and 1,300 fields were installed in North American schools, colleges, parks and professional sports stadiums.

Synthetic turf is a popular and versatile solution for other sports, such as field hockey, baseball, tennis, lacrosse and rugby. About half of all NFL teams currently play their games on synthetic turf. Since 2003, over 70 FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cup matches have been played on synthetic turf soccer fields. Millions of students have new opportunities to practice and play on a sports field that can always be counted upon. It has helped teams go from worst to first, intensified school pride and brought together entire communities.

Here is a list of significant synthetic turf installations that have been implemented since the 1990’s:

1993

  • The 1993 World Series was the fourth (and most recent) World Series to be played entirely on artificial turf, following those in 1980, 1985, and 1987, and the last to have any games played on turf until 2008. As of 2010, only two teams still play on artificial turf, and both are in the American League East and play on AstroTurf: the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays.

1999

  • Real Madrid C.F. (Spain) becomes the first European football club to purchase an AstroTurf system for their practice fields.

2009

  • AstroTurf 3D installed at University of Oregon Rec Fields and Russell Training Center of the St. Louis Rams
  • AstroTurf introduces new baseball product that replicates grass and clay. Baseball system is installed at Wichita State University

2010

  • AstroTurf selected as The Official Synthetic Turf of Major League Baseball and baseball systems are chosen by Toronto Blue Jays and University of Kansas
  • Edward Jones Dome installs AstroTurf’s Magic Carpet System, a fully retractable field, for the Saint Louis Rams
  • AstroTurf 3D systems installed for football teams at University of Cincinnati, Citrus Bowl, Stanford University, University of Tennessee
  • AstroTurf 3D systems installed for soccer and lacrosse use at Stanford University and James Madison University

2011

  • AstroTurf 3DXtreme introduced, which blends monofilament and slit film fibers for combined grass-like aesthetics and high durability. Installed at Home Depot Center for NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, played in early 2012
  • AstroTurf 3D system replaces FieldTurf installation at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium for Kansas State University’s football team
  • AstroTurf baseball product chosen by Kansas State University, Long Island University, The Ohio State University, Tampa Bay Rays, Virginia Tech
  • AstroTurf XPE installed for Penn State’s lacrosse field

2012

  • Boston College, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Utah State University select AstroTurf 3D for football teams
  • Indiana University and Vanderbilt University install AstroTurf baseball products
  • Cornell University installs AstroTurf infield product for softball
  • Intramural programs around the country install AstroTurf infilled surfaces, including James Madison University, Liberty University, Ohio State University, University of Tennessee, and Utah State
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