PHOENIX -- The roof and air conditioning make Chase Field a comfortable experience for D-backs fans during the brutally hot summer months in Arizona, but they also make growing grass a huge challenge.The D-backs believe they've found a way to have the best of both worlds starting in 2019, as
PHOENIX -- The roof and air conditioning make Chase Field a comfortable experience for D-backs fans during the brutally hot summer months in Arizona, but they also make growing grass a huge challenge.
The D-backs believe they've found a way to have the best of both worlds starting in 2019, as they will install state-of-the-art synthetic grass at Chase Field as part of a partnership with Shaw Sports Turf.
The high-performance B1K surface was designed specifically for baseball.
"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," D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "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."
The B1K Natural Turf is a dual fiber system comprised of Shaw's high-performance Strenexe XD slit firm and Shaw's Bolt mono filament. That combination makes it highly durable and prevents the infill from "splashing" so that it stays at the same level throughout the field.
The surface will remain nearly identical to what has been in place since the stadium saw its first game in 1998 including the dirt path between the mound and home plate.
The B1K Natural Turf is nothing like the original artificial turfs that first came out in the 1970s or even the newer versions used in St. Petersburg and Toronto.
According to testing, the B1K Natural Turf provides for a more natural playing posture and motion from players, creating less fatigue because their bodies will not have to overcompensate for bounciness in the surface.
"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," Hall said.
Balls hit on the surface should have the same bounce as they would on natural grass.
"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," vice president of Shaw Turf Chuck McClurg said.
The new surface will also be beneficial for the environment.
Currently, the team leaves the roof to Chase Field open for much of the afternoon in order for the grass to get enough sun to grow. After it is closed, the stadium then uses an enormous amount of air conditioning to try and cool the facility down enough for fans to be comfortable that night.
The new turf is made from completely natural materials that are environmentally friendly and the roof will now be able to be closed during the day conserving the amount of electricity needed to cool the building.
In addition, the team will reduce its water use by 90 percent, which equals nearly two million gallons.
The team plans to install the Shaw Sports Turf synthetic grass on some fields at Salt River Fields, their Spring Training home, to allow players to get some experience on it this spring.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.