The Texas Rangers have announced that a synthetic surface will be installed at Globe Life Field, ending questions over the playing field at the team’s upcoming home. The retractable-roof ballpark will open in 2020.
Currently under construction adjacent to the Rangers’ Globe Life Park, the new Globe Life Field had been the subject of much speculation because of the uncertainty over its playing surface. Although certain design features were reportedly made with natural grass in mind, Rangers officials had made it clear that they were evaluating their options–including the potential installation of synthetic turf.
The Rangers have ultimately selected the Shaw Sports Turf-manufactured B1K system. The club says it was convinced that the surface was the best option for the ballpark, and that its design alleviated concerns over player safety that have traditionally surrounded synthetic surfaces.
“From our first visit with the staff at Shaw Sports Turf, we were clear that a synthetic grass surface for Globe Life Field would only be a consideration if it could deliver the best surface in Major League Baseball and address the concerns we had related to impact on the players,” Rob Matwick, Rangers Executive Vice President of Business Operations, said in a press statement. “Months of detailed research that included extensive input from our Baseball Operations group from both a health and performance aspect have resulted in this decision.”
According to the Rangers, the surface will provide similar aesthetics to the natural grass field at Globe Life Park and the team plans to use natural clay base paths. The team cites environmental implications as well, as the Geofill infill used in the B1K system is made of made of coconut husks and fibers, a renewable resource that the Rangers say requires less water than a natural-grass surface.
“The Texas Rangers are a franchise that definitely does its homework and they don’t take any decision lightly, especially this one. We are very excited for the opportunity to partner with them on this project,” Vice President of Shaw Turf Chuck McClurg said in a press statement. “Throughout their research and our discussions with them, they have placed an emphasis on player safety and team performance. 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.”
Texas-based Paragon Sports Constructors will install the surface ahead of the ballpark’s opening next spring.
“Shaw’s commitment to R and D and product innovation are key reasons we choose to partner with them,” William Chaffe, President of Paragon Sports Constructors, said in a press statement. “The Rangers had a difficult decision but I think ultimately they were convinced by Shaw’s data that their synthetic system would be on par with the best natural surfaces in the Majors. It is clear that the Rangers organization really took their time and made the effort to thoroughly investigate their options for Globe Life Field.”
There was plenty of sentiment for the Rangers to choose a natural-grass surface, both because of tradition and the hope that it could be a draw for players who might consider signing with the team. However, the team’s decision to choose the synthetic surface appears to be based on the belief that the technology behind turf has improved enough to offset concerns over play safety and aesthetics, while being a surer solution to hold up in a retractable-roof ballpark. In addition, the number of non-baseball events that could be held on a turf surface is likely greater than natural grass, which could be factor in how the ballpark’s event calendar is planned. The exact implications of the decision will not be known for a few more years, but the Rangers’ announcement signals their faith in the synthetic surface being the best option at Globe Life Field.
It is worth noting that Globe Life Field will not be the first ballpark in Major League Baseball to install a B1K surface. 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.
Rendering courtesy Texas Rangers.
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