PHOENIX - The Arizona Diamondbacks are replacing Chase Field's natural grass with "state-of-the-art" synthetic grass by Opening Day 2019.
The decision to replace natural turf with a synthetic surface was strongly considered, according to Diamondbacks' President and CEO Derrick Hall.
“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,” Hall said. “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."
Chase Field is well-known for its roof, which opens and closes. And it's that famous roof that also factored in to the team's decision to make the switch to synthetic.
“The challenges with growing natural grass in our climate and stadium have been well documented and we have considered alternate solutions for many years," Hall said. "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 team is partnering with Shaw Sports Turf to develop the " high-performance B1K™ surface is designed specifically for baseball." When it comes time for installation, Shaw will partner with Lloyd Civil and Engineering, an Arizona-based company.
The popularity of synthetic grass in professional sports has grown in recent years with 14 of 32 NFL teams utilizing the surface. In a statement released by the Diamondbacks, some of the practice fields at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick will also use synthetic grass in order to allow players to practice on and get used to the new surface.
"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 team estimates the move will also save about two million gallons in water consumption each season.