Although the team has not made a final decision, a number of factors could lead to the Texas Rangers installing a synthetic surface at Globe Life Field.
When it opens in 2020, the retractable-roof Globe Life Field will replace the adjacent Globe Life Park as the home of the Rangers. Throughout the planning process, one of the key questions has been whether the Rangers will make the new ballpark’s playing surface natural grass or if they will go with a synthetic turf. Certain design features for the ballpark are made with natural grass in mind, but club officials have contended that they are exploring both options.
Globe Life Field’s opening is now a little more than a year away and, while no final decision has been made, there are certain complications that could come with a natural surface. The Rangers have had difficulty maintaining a grass field at open-air Globe Life Park because of issues with shade and rising temperatures, and the retractable-roof environment of Globe Life Field could pose its own problems. Additionally, Globe Life Field’s playing surface will sit significantly further below street level compared to its predecessor–almost 70 feet as opposed to 50–and the Rangers have reportedly been exploring Shaw Sport Turf’s B1K playing surface as an option. More from SportsDay:
Those issues are only going to be heightened by a move into a park with a retractable roof, which means more shade, and with a playing surface now nearly 70 feet below street level. The current field sits 50 feet below street level. It was worth at least asking the question: Is there a better solution?
“We could put a grass surface in, but whether it would be the quality needed for a major league team could be questionable,” [Rangers executive vice president of business operations Rob] Matwick said. “From what we’ve seen [in retractable stadiums], the surfaces are generally good, but can’t say they are 100 percent consistent from foul pole to foul pole. With the objective of having the best playing surface, it has to meet the elements of playability, the aesthetics and, most importantly, that it will be safe for our players. If it can check all of those boxes, it’s a viable option.”
Shaw, which spent six years developing B1K, had seemingly been waiting for somebody like the Rangers to come along. As part of their initial presentation, Shaw reps revved up an air cannon and fired baseballs into the ground at Globe Life Park, then repeated the experiment on a B1K surface. The bounces and how energy transferred were remarkably similar.
That caught the Rangers’ attention.
B1K would not be new to the majors if it were installed at Globe Life Field. After years of struggling to maintain a natural grass surface at the retractable-roof Chase Field, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced earlier this offseason that they will install B1K at the ballpark prior to this coming season.
Ultimately, the Rangers have a number of factors to consider, including player safety, aesthetics, how the playing surface will factor into recruiting free agents, and whether its adaptability to non-baseball events will make turf the preferred option. The Rangers have said that the ballpark will use a natural dirt infield regardless, but the playing surface is one key area that the team has to finalize as Globe Life Field’s construction continues.
Rendering courtesy Texas Rangers.
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