From its first installation with a prominent national team over 50 years ago to almost every popular sport in America today, artificial turf has found its place in solving stadium issues, saving cost and improving safety.
In 1966, facility managers at the Houston Astrodome found themselves in the midst of a dilemma. The glinting rays from the massive dome skylights were creating visual difficulties for players. Once the huge panes of glass were tinted gray to reduce the glare, the grass on the field withered from lack of sunlight. A potential artificial grass solution was introduced and soon the first major installation of artificial turf took place.
This first major baseball turf fieldinstallation legitimized the idea of synthetic playing surfaces, and set off a chain reaction. Over the next decade, artificial fields were being installed in other covered facilities, outdoor fields and multi-purpose stadiums. By the mid-1970s, in addition to baseball and football, artificial surfaces were being used in sports fields including soccer, softball, field hockey, rugby, lacrosse and tennis across the U.S. Like the sport itself, turf fields have been exported overseas and are the surface of choice across the majority of Japanese baseball.
An Ever-improving Product
Since it was introduced, artificial turf has undergone numerous improvements. With every major advance in manufacturing technology, new developments in durable textiles and synthetic materials have been applied.
Today Keystone Sports Construction, a leading design and installer of artificial turf at the professional, collegiate and high school levels, sites their partnership with manufacturer Turf Nation as most important to the ever-improving turf environment because of its use of advanced technologies such as Balanced Matrix Construction.
The Baseball Bounce
At first, the most notable effect artificial grass had on baseball was that it sped up the hitting aspect of the game. Grounders and line drives tended to hit the surface and continue with a faster, further bounce — prompting infielders to position themselves further from home plate. Recently, variances in turf density have been installed on the running paths between each base to assist sliding and to accommodate metal-cleated baseball shoes — providing players with maximum overall stability.
A Force in North American Football
From the first years to today, the advantages of turf football fieldsbecame recognized across the National Football League at the home stadiums of popular teams like the Pittsburg Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings to name a few. In just the last five years, four Super Bowls were played on artificial turf produced by manufacturer Turf Nation alone as well as the NFL Hall of Fame field – a true testament to the ongoing popularity and importance of turf in football.
Turf’s popularity over the years also grew into Canada with several franchises of the Canadian Football League also enjoying artificial turf. Regardless of location, technical advances in synthetic turf resilience is attractive to fans and teams alike. State-of-the-art fibers maintain coloration, so that the distinctive yardage markings, boundary lines and logos of the gridiron remain clear after heavy use.
The Soccer Solution
Indoor soccer began in America in the mid-1880s and flourishes today on amateur and professional levels. Modern day teams benefit from artificial turf, a surface that allows participants to enjoy a faster version of the sport regardless of the weather outside.
Meanwhile, soccer is collectively known as “association football” or “futbol” across Europe and beyond. Turf soccer fieldsfirst grew in popularity during the 1980s, and are currently seeing a resurgence in areas with specific challenges. Grass fields are sometimes referred to as pitches in this sport, and can be difficult to maintain in cold climates and in areas that receive little rain. For these reasons, synthetic turf is the preferred choices in some regions of the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and northern Russia as well as in South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Wide Acceptance Across the Sporting World
Over the last several decades, turf has steadily found favor in a number of other sports in the U.S. and abroad including field hockey matches at the Olympic Games. Synthetic surfaces became the preferred choice at practically all elite events and by the 1990s were commonplace across sports on the local club level.
A large percentage of collegiate and elite-level lacrosse leagues also prefer artificial surfaces. The International Tennis Federation first recognized synthetic grass as an acceptable playing surface in the 1970s. Today, this is the most popular choice among Australian club tennis players who prefer this surface to clay — as it is more forgiving on joints and easier to maintain. Meanwhile, turf rugby fieldsare in use across England and Scotland as the sport’s governing body recognizes the value of a padded, resilient surface.
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
The advantages of artificial turf continue to present themselves in step with the advancement of technology. Today, beyond the many advantages seen by sports facilities across the globe, turf installments have come to also be seen as eco-friendly ways to cut back on water use while producing less waste and putting reusable materials to good use.
Looking forward, the popularity of synthetic grass is poised to grow exponentially. A turf field can last 10 to 15 years and requires significantly less maintenance than a natural grass field. This can dramatically reduce costs for athletic associations with the possibility of increasing property value and aesthetic appeal for facility owners.
Explore the Difference for Yourself
Turf fields have been in use across the world of sports for over 50 years and in that time have expanded from a single turf baseball fieldto include popular sports around the world. Since the adoption of synthetic turf, diverse sports groups have learned to apply it to their games and enjoy the exciting benefits that come with playing on a turf field.
Whether it’s the clean bounce of the ball or aiding in the shock absorption for athletes, contact Keystone Sports Construction to learn more about the ongoing advances and time-tested advantages of a turf field and how it can make a difference in your team’s play as it has for years past.