Welcome to AstroTurf
Since 1965, the AstroTurf brand has been driven by forward thinking ingenuity. Today AstroTurf continuously improves its system design to deliver playing surfaces with the most realistic, sport-specific performance, longest lasting durability, and sound player protection.
Dalton, GA, August 19, 2016 – The sale of AstroTurf® to SportGroup® Holdings has closed, creating arguably the largest outdoor sports surfacing company in the world. The sale was approved on Friday, August 12, 2016 and closed Friday, August 19, 2016. AstroTurf...
Dalton, GA, August 19, 2016 – The sale of AstroTurf® to SportGroup® Holdings has closed, creating arguably the largest outdoor sports surfacing company in the world. The sale was approved on Friday, August 12, 2016 and closed Friday, August 19, 2016. AstroTurf products and services will be marketed by the newly formed company AstroTurf Corporation. By adding AstroTurf, SYNlawn®, and the related manufacturing operations to its portfolio of companies and brands (which includes Polytan®, APT®, Melos®, Rekortan®, Laykold® and Poligras®), SportGroup is well positioned to continue its global leadership of the sports surfacing industry.
SportGroup, founded in 1969, is a global leader in artificial turf systems and running tracks. Prior to the acquisition of AstroTurf and related turf entities, SportGroup reported a >€340 million annual turnover (2015) and around 1,000 employees. The company maintains production plants in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region and operates in more than 70 countries. It has manufactured and installed more than 7,000 fields and 16,000 tracks.
This acquisition enhances SportGroup and AstroTurf’s strength, size, stability, and manufacturing capacity, positioning the team for rapid growth. The purchase provides SportGroup direct access to North American athletic turf customers through AstroTurf, a proven American brand with a 50 year history. AstroTurf will play a leading role in SportGroup’s go to market strategy for North America and beyond.
SportGroup will retain all AstroTurf’s technologies, processes, products, intellectual property, and personnel. Adding AstroTurf to the portfolio of SportGroup brands and companies brings greater stability to sports facilities and the industry as a whole.
“We are welcoming AstroTurf to our team,” stated Andreas M. Schulze Ising, CEO & President of APT Advanced Polymer Technology Corp., “to create the only all encompassing sport systems company in the world to finally service each and every sport with the complete range of surface solutions.”
“Becoming a SportGroup company elevates the AstroTurf brand and enables us to bring even more innovations to market,” said, Heard Smith, Chief Executive Officer of AstroTurf and the rest of the Turf Division. “The union of these brands ushers in the next era of sophisticated sports surfacing for today’s highly trained athletes.”
AstroTurf and other SportGroup companies together forge a team of sports surfacing experts that is focused on introducing the most cutting edge technologies. The alliance fosters global cooperation in research and development initiatives and offers more benefits to clients, including:
- More FIFA, FIH, and World Rugby-certified systems and pitches than ever before
- Highly evolved American Football turf systems selections
- Top-tier Olympic and World Cup field hockey surfaces
- Industry-leading baseball and softball systems
- More RootZone® products and installations than any other provider on the market
- Legendary running track brands from APT, including Rekortan®
- Largest and most efficient installation force worldwide
- Leading EPDM rubber manufacturing from Melos
- Leading tennis court surface systems from APT, including Laykold®
- Most advanced “green” technologies from APT, including TuftGuard® and Qualipur® adhesives
Frank Dittrich, Chief Executive Officer of SportGroup, noted, “AstroTurf is perhaps the most iconic brand in sports. It adds tremendous value to SportGroup and its future as the global leader in outdoor sports surfacing.”
AstroTurf® fields will continue to be manufactured in the United States in the company’s own vertically integrated, advanced manufacturing facilities, which now benefit from expanded capacity since the acquisition. In addition, all employees will remain with the organization, providing stability for clients and distributors.
SportGroup® is a worldwide market leader of outdoor sport and recreational surface systems. SportGroup® installs artificial turf fields and tracks and manufactures all system critical components in-house. SportGroup® has three main product groups (artificial turf, engineered surfaces including running track systems and playground as well as industrial products including adhesives and coatings through APT) used in a variety of applications. The business benefits from its unique system competence, leading technology and its unique global market position. For more information, visit www.sportgroup-holding.com and www.advpolytech.com.
For athletes and sport enthusiasts, AstroTurf® has redefined the way the game is played. The brand offers advanced, state-of-the-art, multi-sport and specialized synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies. A growing number of high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority, and safety. To learn more, visit the company’s recently redesigned website, www.astroturf.com.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (August 19, 2016) – The National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention is coming to the Los Angeles Convention Center January 11-15, 2017 and celebrates its return to the West Coast with the most highly-engineered demonstration fields in NSCAA Convention history.
“AstroTurf is the inventor of the entire synthetic turf industry and we’re very excited to have them as our newest partner,” said NSCAA CEO Lynn Berling-Manuel. AstroTurf will serve as the Official Playing Surface Provider of the NSCAA Convention for 2017-2020. “Our new fields will feature AstroTurf’s RootZone technology which provides structure and consistency. The fields being constructed on a shock attenuation pad means the fields will be safe and the characteristics of the field will be optimal for our presenters and their demonstration players while avoiding the use of crumb rubber infill.”
The AstroTurf Golden Series fields, named after AstroTurf’s 50th anniversary, were first installed in 2014 is association with Los Angeles Recreation and Parks. Over the last 18 months, AstroTurf has installed more than 4 million square feet of this rubber-free system on soccer fields across the country.
“As a partner with the NSCAA, we are poised to support the urgent need for better fields. It’s an issue faced by programs and clubs at every level,” said Heard Smith, CEO for AstroTurf. “The NSCAA Convention is now the must-attend event, not just for coaches but for the entire soccer community. As such, the NSCAA is the perfect partner to usher in the next era of sophisticated soccer surfacing for today’s teams, both at the highest level and in every community across America. These are the systems AstroTurf and the NSCAA will showcase.”
The NSCAA Convention is the largest gathering of soccer coaches in the world. With over 250 education sessions bringing together coaches of every level, more than 10,000 people are expected to attend the Convention’s first trip to the west coast since 1994. The aim of having an Official Playing Surface Provider is to ensure that every presenter has the best possible environment and opportunity to share their knowledge and effectively convey their session.
“I first became an NSCAA member in 2003 and have been attending the Convention with my father [NSCAA Goalkeeper Institute Director, Tony DiCicco] my entire life,” explains AstroTurf’s Director of Soccer, Anthony DiCicco. “With improved demonstration fields and the world class roster of presenters, this partnership will enhance the effectiveness of those presentations and every attendees’ experience. “
“Everywhere I travel in the country I hear stories about the extent of our field crisis. The inclusion of the U.S. Women’s National Team in that debate has heightened the urgency of this transition.” DiCicco continued, “The newest generation of fields better protect players, are cooler, and provide better playability. AstroTurf and the NSCAA are excited and proud to come together showcasing the modern coach on the modern field for our entire soccer community.”
For soccer, AstroTurf® has redefined the way the game is played. The brand offers advanced, state-of-the-art, multi-sport and specialized synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies. A growing number of high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority, and safety. To learn more, visit www.astroturf.com.
Hockey teams at the Rio Olympics are squaring off on artificial pitches made by a German firm. And SportGroup’s products don’t stop there – the market for synthetic sport and activity surfaces is booming.
Long before the first athletes arrived in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics, a Bavarian company finished installing artificial turf for the field hockey competition.
SportGroup, based in Burgheim in Bavaria, actually completed the four field hockey fields last year, when many other Olympic venues were still being constructed.
It’s a source of pride for SportGroup’s chief Frank Dittrich and his staff, who have plenty of experience in outfitting Olympic arenas. Athletes have already competed on plastic grass from Germany at previous Olympic Games in London, Beijing and Sydney.
Despite that, the mid-sized company is almost unknown outside Bavaria. One reason is that SportGroup is a holding company: The actual business is farmed out to two dozen companies under it.
SportGroup markets synthetic sports turf under the brand name Polytan. In addition, the company offers granulates used to cushion modern surfaces, under the name Melos and APT, for other producers.
“Now SportGroup is making another big leap. Earlier this summer it announced the acquisition of U.S. rival AstroTurf.”ENDSTRONG SportGroup’s companies also make and install artificial tracks and playground surfaces.
“Except for us, no one produces everything themselves,” said Mr. Dittrich. Business is excellent. Last year, sales shot up by more than 10 percent to EURO 340 million, or about $375 million. Everyday, somewhere in the world, members of the 1,000-strong workforce complete new artificial turf fields or running tracks for customers.
Now SportGroup is making another big leap. Earlier this summer it announced the acquisition of U.S. rival AstroTurf. The Georgia-based company made its name 50 years ago with the artificial grass at Houston’s Astrodome, Major League Baseball’s first indoor stadium. “They’re synonymous with artificial turf in the United States,” said Mr. Dittrich. The acquisition will add EURO 120 million in sales and take SportGroup revenues for the first time to more than a half-billion euros.
Still, artificial turf remains controversial. Athletes and sports officials often complain about playing on synthetic surfaces rather than on real grass.
At the 2015 Women’s Soccer World Cup in Canada, for instance, German national coach Silvia Neid had nothing but contempt for some of the artificial playing surfaces. Players said fields were hellishly hot and that granules of recycled rubber, which are used to soften the surfaces, often flew up in the air and created clouds of tiny particles during matches.
“It was a nightmare,” groaned U.S. national team member Abby Wambach. She accused soccer officials of sexism because men played on natural grass while women were relegated to artificial surfaces.
The women athletes, however, were mostly complaining about pitches made from recycled automobile tires.
In contrast, there was even the occasional praise for higher-quality artificial turf, such as that supplied by Sport- Group for the stadium in Vancouver, where the final game was played.
And earlier this summer at the European Soccer Championships, natural grass wasn’t necessarily any better. Organizers in Lille, for example, had to quickly lay fresh turf for the knock-out match between Germany and Slovakia. Earlier in the tournament, Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic had complained of many holes in the turf at the stadium in northern France. Officially, according to the organizers, the natural surface was replaced because “extremely difficult weather conditions had caused irreversible damage.”
For Mr. Dittrich, the grass disaster in France was just what he needed to make his case. He is convinced that synthetic surfaces are better for most sports clubs. Matches can be played much more often on artificial fields than on natural grass, and the cost of maintenance is lower. Plus, he said, “players have consistently optimal conditions.
” In the Arctic north, dry southern climes and even in the tropics, artificial turf is often the only option for a permanently playable pitch. Without artificial turf, Mr. Dittrich noted, the Icelandic national team would never have made it to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals in France. Mr. Dittrich, himself an amateur soccer player, isn’t the only one to believe in artificial turf. Last year, financial investor Equistone Partners took over the company from IK Investment Partners. The price is not known.
IK had bought a stake in the company in 2006. Back then, Firl +Schretter Sportstättenbau OHG was created to specialize in the installation of polyurethane surfaces.
A couple of years later, the company went into the production of surfaces for sport and recreation. Since then, the Bavarians have been taking over competitors and building their business worldwide.
SportGroup now has production facilities in the United States, England, Germany, Poland and Australia.
Having a global presence is important since the competition is also active the world over. The competitors Fieldturf and Desso are owned by the surface producer Tarkett. With sales close to EURO 3 billion, the French group is considerably larger, but somewhat smaller than SportGroup in its sports division.
Mr. Dittrich was involved in other international prestige projects before Rio. This summer’s European track and field championships were run on surfaces provided by the Bavarian group.
Artificial turf is still frowned on in the Bundesliga, the German soccer league, but not so much elsewhere. SportGroup turf, for instance, covers Stade de Suisse in Bern, Switzerland. Likewise in Austria at Red Bull Salzburg, the soccer team, or the tennis courts in Key Biscayne, Florida.
Polytan offers nine different types of artificial turf. Poligras Platinum Cool Plus is the name of the carpet Sport- Group laid out on hockey fields in Rio. It is an especially dense and evenly textured surface on which the ball rolls particularly well. At any rate, the ball is rolling well for the German teams in Rio, which are yet to lose a match.
Mr. Dittrich is in Rio to watch the action. Like the players, he wants his firm to “drive consolidation forward. Otherwise, others will.”
BRISTOL, Tenn. — When asked what it was like to race at Bristol Motor Speedway in August, NASCAR legend and nine-time Bristol winner Rusty Wallace famously said, “When they turn the lights on at that place, all hell breaks loose.”
The lights will come on and stay on long after the checkered flag falls on the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race next Saturday. After the race, the last NASCAR hauler typically climbs the banks and exits the stadium around 2 a.m., leaving a skeleton crew behind to shut everything down.
This year, the crews, including more than 30 vendors, will be ready to storm the infield, flowing in and out of the stadium in a tightly choreographed effort comprised of heavy equipment, cranes and hundreds of workers.
“It’s like a Gantt chart for a construction site or a minute by minute that we use for our pre-race,” Caldwell said. “But it’s a two-and-a-half week minute by minute.”
After the crowd leaves the race, stadium cleaning experts Can Do Enterprises, based in Gray, Tennessee, has enlisted a crew of more than 200 workers. Once the infield is scoured, the crew will move on to the nearby buildings, then the grandstands, all of which are power-washed for the race, and then cleaned again afterward.
The first step in building up the field is installing a heavy-duty fabric barrier.
The speedway’s infield is normally slightly concave, allowing water to drain to the middle, Caldwell said. A football field must drain to the edges.
“So it kind of has that crest in the middle,” Caldwell said. “We have to raise the middle of it to get it that high so it will drain on the edge.”
To prevent tons of material from disappearing, the barrier must first be rolled over the infield.
Once that’s in place, Baker’s Construction Services, of Bluff City, Tennessee, will bring in 450 truckloads of rock and manufactured sand for the field base, which will weigh in at more than 10,600 tons.
Chad Baker, the company’s president, said BCS has worked with the speedway for many years. It also assisted with Colossus.
Stone for the project will come from a local quarry, Baker said.
“We’ll be placing the material with a dozer and a grader and run a robotic total station,” Baker said.
They’ll use Universal Total Station UTS site-measurement technology provided by SITECH Mid-South. Crews will place and compact the field base. When complete, the base will rise to a height of more than 3 feet and will be measured in 10 different locations, three times each, before being approved for use.
At the same time, T&B Equipment of Ashland, Virginia ― which specializes in event seating — will build the first series of risers. Overall, multiple seating companies will add more than 5,000 seats to the infield.
Builder J.A. Street and Associates, of Blountville, Tennessee, will also be on site, clearing out the Goodyear Tire Building, the lower level of the Infield Media Center, and Victory Lane areas for transformation into team and referee locker rooms and meeting space.
Jim Street said the lockers have been pre-manufactured and work will take about two weeks to complete.
“It can be done,” Street said. “It can be a 24-7 project. We’ll have the lights on.”
Street added that the entire project is a challenge, but it will be ready by game time.
Advent, a sports branding specialist from Nashville, Tennessee, will then step in to “create a fresh, modern look” with signs, Caldwell said.
Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol branding will also start to appear around the infield as Express Signs, of Kingsport, Tennessee, and Foster Signs, of Jonesborough, Tennessee, begin their work.
By Thursday, Aug. 25, according to a construction schedule, tons of rock and sand will be in place for inspection and ready for AstroTurf to install the field green.
The company will begin that Thursday to complete a grid survey, to make sure it’s NCAA-compliant.
“We’ll work with him [Baker] on that last day doing the final touches on it and we’ll be putting up the field goal posts,” said Mitchell Truban, director of construction at AstroTurf. “Chad has already poured some concrete pads for us and they’re custom field goal posts that are, most of them are 10-foot high, this is 14-foot high, because we have to go down a lot more than normally. It’s unique for this field.”
The field goal posts will be placed as Baker’s crew completes the stone drainage base.
Once the grid survey is signed off, the turf will be installed, Truban said.
AstroTurf will employ its 3D3 playing surface, which boasts a shorter, denser turf carpet that provides more fiber and requires less infill, Truban said.
The field also features the RootZone infill stabilization system, a texturized layer of fiber that curls down into the surface, creating a net-like matrix that stabilizes infill. This reduces “splash” during play and provides grass-like traction for players.
In all, 15 AstroTurf staff members will install more than 100,200 square feet of surface to a height of 1.5 inches, using more than 180,000 pounds each of silica and rubber infill. The process is scheduled to be completed by Sunday, Aug. 28.
Baker said there is “good coordination” between his company and AstroTurf in preparing the field.
By Monday, Aug. 29, many of the central elements will be in place. During the second week of construction, according to Caldwell, facets like lockers and sideline greens will go into place. Work also expands outside of the stadium.
Many pre-produced field components, including the sidelines, hashes and yard markers, will be installed over a two-day period, readying the field for the final touches from university artists and World Class Paints of Leland, Mississippi.
Other components to be added include play clocks. Concession stands and restrooms will be installed on the track surface for all of the sitting areas in place on the infield.
On Thursday, Sept. 1, BMS staff will move beyond the coliseum to prep the track’s three adjacent campgrounds, which are being centrally managed for the event. According to BMS, the work on the campgrounds requires laying fresh gravel, adding around 130 light towers and generators, striping spaces, and mowing more than 220 acres, in addition to the track’s own 500-acre grounds.
By Friday, the build-out of locker rooms, along with the grooming of the field and infield, will be complete.
Final touches and some more heavy lifting will take place during the final week before the game.
On Sunday, Sept. 4, Virginia Tech’s Casey Underwood and Darren Seybold from the University of Tennessee will be on hand to stencil and paint end zones and team logos. World Class Paint will supply the materials for crews to christen the 50-yard line with the game logo.
Heavy steel trucks will also move in as work begins on the construction of the massive stage for Bristol’s Tailgate Party. The concert will feature headliner Kenny Chesney with the Band Perry and Old Dominion.
The roofed structure is planned at 140 feet wide, 100 feet deep and over 40 feet tall, according to the speedway. It will require the help of three cranes to build. Once complete, it will extend from the infield, out over the backstretch pit wall, and onto the apron.
Campgrounds will officially open on Tuesday. Then by Thursday evening, all structures will be complete and all supplies will be in for the start of Friday’s celebrations.
Festivities will include multiple concerts on several stages, fan zones packed with rides, tailgate games and more than 55 vendors, the speedway reports. The grandstand gates will open Friday at 5 p.m. for the Tailgate Party. When the party ends, crews will then dismantle the stage and ship it out in 12 hours.
On game day, more than 1,000 workers will be on site to park, guide and shuttle the crowd around the grounds. Seventy employees will help coordinate park-and-ride locations in Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport, and multiple third-party vendors are bringing in more than 240 tour buses to keep the crowd flowing.
Unlike the races, the game will have a security perimeter that roughly follows the paths of Beaver Creek and Volunteer Parkway. Any guests seeking entry to the grounds must display their tickets or credentials to get in. The perimeter will feature fencing and metal detectors, which have not been used at the speedway in the past.
Like the races, BMS Guest Service locations, including Guest Welcome Villages, will be located on the grounds.
Thirsty fans looking for a cold one can check out two on-site Anheuser-Busch locations, which will go up during the construction phase. The Bud Light Down South Tailgate Tour will feature a climate-controlled bar with Bud Light, luxury tour bus with roof deck, food trucks, and traditional tailgate games. The Budweiser Country Club, an open-air, three-level build-out featuring elevated views, two 20-foot bars and Budweiser Signature Draught towers, will also be on grounds.
Once the game is over, the winner will receive the 88-pound Battle at Bristol trophy, designed by a fan from Nashville and constructed by MTM Recognition. The trophy stands over 2 feet tall and is nearly as wide.
One week later, East Tennessee State University and Western Carolina University will play on the field. Once that game’s over, crews will begin transforming the football stadium back into a race track.
Truban, who will attend the Battle at Bristol game, said AstroTurf will remove the field and prepare it for storage.
Those unable to see the makeover in person can watch the Battle at Bristol on television during ABC’s Saturday Night Football, starting at 8 p.m.
Other venues around the world will be watching the speedway as it transforms the coliseum into a football venue. Caldwell said he’s heard from a number of officials asking how it’s being done.
“It’s been a decades-long offensive drive to make this game a reality,” Caldwell said. “After so much time it’s exciting to see everything coming together, and there’s no other crew in the world I’d want to tackle these challenges with than the team at Bristol Motor Speedway. We can’t wait to welcome our guests on game day.”