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The next big thing: Artificial turf

Washington Wild ThingsForget about the old days of AstroTurf, the artificial turf with practically no padding, the stuff that killed careers — or certainly impacted them, as Andre Dawson can attest. Today’s artificial turf is making a resurgence in indy and college ballparks, as the product has improved significantly in recent years.

It wasn’t that long ago that artificial turf was basically a thick carpet, rolled out when needed at the likes of Olympic Stadium during the final days of the Montreal Expos. It rose out of necessity when the Houston Astros couldn’t make grass grow at the Astrodome, and then gained a reputation as a crippler over the years.

Today’s artificial turf is much different: it’s not a carpet, but rather plastic shaped to look like grass, with pellets within to soften the experience for players. We’re seeing it pop up in all sorts of circumstances — like at the Corn Crib, opening this past season as the home of the Normal CornBelters (independent; Frontier League) — and this offseason the Washington Wild Things (independent; Frontier League) are installing it at Consol Energy Park. The team has suffered through drainage issues at the ballpark in past years, and adding the artificial turf will help the team host events other than baseball games for more of the year.

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