The Arizona Diamondbacks are embarking on one big change for the 2019 season: synthetic turf designed for baseball will replace the grass turf at Chase Field.
Shaw Turf will supply the new B1K surface, and it’s 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,” said Diamondbacks President & CEO Derrick Hall in a press 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.”
Indeed, the challenge of keeping Chase Field cool in the hot Phoenix climate has been a huge challenge for the team: requiring the roof to be open all day to accommodate the grass and then cooling down the bowl for game time is something the climate system at Chase Field couldn’t accomplish on a regular basis.
For those concerned about ballpark aesthetics: yes, the keyhole design will remain in the infield, with a dirt path between the mound and home plate.
According to Shaw Turf, the the new B1K dual fiber system combines of a 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 result is a less bouncing playing surface
“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 in a press release. “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.”
There’s also an environmental play here, as the Geofill infill is made from natural materials that are environmentally friendly. According to the team, Chase Field will conserve cooling energy by keeping the roof closed during the daytime, while transition to a synthetic playing surface is expected to provide 90 percent savings — nearly two million gallons — in water consumption each season by requiring less water to maintain the system.
Image courtesy Arizona Diamondbacks.