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.
Asheville, NC – Back in 2006 there was no such thing as an iPhone, Shaq was still winning championships, and Harry Potter could only be found in books. It’s also the year that the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex (JBL) had its first AstroTurf® soccer fields installed....
San Antonio, TX – The Cole football team played its 2016 home games on a field that predated the invention of artificial turf. When the Cougars kick off their 2017 season Sept. 1, they will play on a surface that is ahead of its time in their home state.
Cole uprooted the natural-grass field it had used since 1963 and this summer has installed the most technologically advanced product made by AstroTurf — the same company that brought artificial playing fields to prominence when it covered the Houston Astrodome’s floor with a carpet-like surface in 1966.
Cole will use its “DT32” model that features a cushiony field with an infill made from zeolite, an organic, porous mineral that absorbs water and helps reduce surface temperatures.
“I think this is really the turf of the future,” Cole principal Isabell Clayton said. “It’ll be the first of its kind in Texas.”
Going from old-fashioned grass to new-age turf was part of a months-long overhaul, which had been on the district’s agenda for a decade. Because Fort Sam Houston ISD is located on federal property as part of Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, and does not collect property taxes like most public school districts, it had to wait until it was awarded Federal Impact Aid money from the U.S. Department of Education.
Clayton said government funds will cover $5.2 million of the $7.2 million cost. The rest comes from the school district’s general fund. Cole also installed a larger scoreboard and press box, LED lights, a new track and new bleachers — switching the home stands from the east side of the field to the west so they are no longer facing a setting sun.
A brick building behind the south end zone, which will include a concession stand, storage room, booster club room and changing room for officials, is scheduled to be completed in November.
Cole football coach John Reyes noted the old bleachers had some rotted wooden boards, the track was made of cinder and the lights had to be powered by a generator because of faulty wiring beneath the field.
“We had a thing I call a Band-Aids on top of Band-Aids kind of situation,” Reyes said. “It needed to be renovated.”
Incoming Cole senior Destinie Small, who plays volleyball and runs track, said some visiting students used the word “tragic” to describe the venue.
A cut above
Cole did not need to install the cutting-edge turf. Julie Novak, the chief financial officer for Fort Sam Houston ISD, said the product costs about $200,000 more than a standard artificial playing surface.
Clayton said the school selected AstroTurf’s top-of-the-line model because it wanted the highest-quality, safest surface for its students, military dependents who often transfer in or out of the district during their high school tenures. She said Cole administrators visited and studied several turf fields in the San Antonio area — including Jourdanton, which Clayton said uses an organic infill made of coconut shells and cork but requires watering and must periodically be replenished.
Clayton, Reyes and Cole athletic director Tina Guerrero even traveled to California to take an up-close look at DT32, which according to AstroTurf developer David DiGeromino was the brainchild of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. DiGeromino said the city, unsatisfied with multiple artificial turf models it had used, wanted fields with more padding that required less maintenance, had cooler surface temperatures and were not made with the common infill of sand and recycled rubber.
DiGeromino said the city, which since 2014 has built about 25 fields covered with DT32, came up with the specifications for the turf and funded its development. The specifications are not proprietary to AstroTurf, which manufactured the turf and incorporated it into its product line.
“The beauty of this thing is it was not made up by the industry at all,” DiGeromino said. “It was made up by a client that was tired of the industry.”
The product’s “ZeoFill,” which is composed mostly of zeolite, is a lightweight, chalky substance with a dull green color that absorbs water and slowly dehydrates, creating an evaporative effect that cools the playing surface.
Jim Savoca, a regional vice president of sales for AstroTurf, said the on-field temperature can reach within 15-20 degrees of the surrounding air temperature. Although watering is not required to create the cooling effect, Savoca said it increases if water is applied.
Zeolite, composed of aluminum, silicon and oxygen, also is used for water purification and softening and possesses deodorizing qualities. It is found in some nutritional supplements as well.
“It’s really a funky material in that it has these great properties,” Savoca said. “That’s why they like it in California.”
Below the surface
Cole also likes its new playing surface because, according to Savoca and school administrators, it is better equipped to prevent head injuries compared to other types of artificial turf.
Savoca said the strands of artificial grass are shorter, but there are more of them and they are more tightly woven together, creating a denser, more forgiving field.
Beneath the 1-inch thick turf is a 1-inch layer of foam padding to provide extra cushion.
“Theoretically, you should have a lot less problems with any kind of concussions,” said Rich Allen, facilities manager for Fort Sam Houston ISD.
Lance Neal, the athletic director for Laguna Beach (California) High School, attested to the turf’s cooling and concussion-preventing qualities. The school installed DT32 before the 2016-17 school year, and Neal said there were no concussions caused by head-to-turf impacts in either football or soccer.
Neal said the turf plays faster than most because it is cut shorter. He also said it was more slippery, particularly in soccer, because most players were using plastic cleats on a surface made from plastic. Football cleats made of rubber provided better traction.
“We didn’t have a single complaint during football season. Everybody loved it,” Neal said. “There were no turf burns, none of that stuff. It played really, really well.”
DiGeronimo said the DT32 model has also been sold in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
“We think it’s a game-changer because of the uniqueness we’re selling,” Savoca said.
Clayton said Cole intends to show off its new field to the rest of San Antonio and the state. The school hopes to host district and regional track and field meets — Guerrero said it has not done so in at least 20 years — along with football and soccer playoff games.
Cole football player Josh Austin said the revamped stadium is “something that we can be proud of,” whereas the field used to be the butt of jokes among the Cougars’ opponents. Reyes said participation in the team’s summer workout program more than doubled compared to a year earlier, which he attributes in part to the excitement created by the renovation.
The turf comes with a 10-year warranty, but school administrators expect it to last much longer.
“We’re trying to think ahead. We’re trying to think of the future,” Clayton said. “If this (grass field) was here 60 years, maybe this next one will be, too.”
When you tell the history of any sport played on a field, it’s pretty hard not to mention AstroTurf. AstroTurf has been the stage on which some of the greatest moments in sports history have played out. Over the past fifty plus years, there have been some incredible moments in sports and great innovations in synthetic turf as well. AstroTurf has witnessed many of those moments and led the way in most of the innovations. Everyone has great sport memories that they love to share and we are no different. We have compiled a list of a few that that are very special to us and we hope it brings back fond memories to you also.
When the Houston Astros took the field against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the new synthetic field in the Astrodome on April 8th 1966, a new era of playing surfaces had begun and AstroTurf became the first name in turf. The popularity of this new playing surface quickly caught the attention of almost every athletic facility manager in the country and artificial turf soon became a mainstay in sports.
The Rise of an Iconic Brand
The first outdoor installation of AstroTurf was at Indiana State’s Memorial Stadium. From there, the popularity of this new alternative to natural grass spread quickly through Major League Baseball, the NFL and College Football. With so many installations spreading throughout the country, AstroTurf was bound to be at the center of sports history. The iconic playing surface has witnessed championships, record breaking achievements, bowl games, Olympic Games, playoff games and even concerts. It is a privilege to witness even one historic sporting event, but AstroTurf has been center stage for thousands of them. There are too many to list but we have put together a few highlights of some moments AstroTurf has taken part.
In 1969, the Chicago White Sox installed AstroTurf at Comiskey Park making it the first outdoor MLB stadium to do so. Shortly thereafter, AstroTurf spread throughout the league and across all fields of sports. When the 1970 World Series opened at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, the Reds and Orioles were there and so was AstroTurf. Many more high stakes MLB games on our turf would follow.
The 1970s and 80s saw the rise of the innovative playing surface and in 1980 the Royals and Cardinals met in the World Series and every one of their games was played on AstroTurf. Following that, the 1985, 1987 and 1993 World Series were all played entirely on AstroTurf. We also made appearances in the 1980, 1985, and 1991 series.
When baseball greats came together to play in the MLB All-Star game, they did so on AstroTurf in 1968, 1970, 1973, 1976, 1982, 1986, 1989 and 1996. During this era, AstroTurf was the green canvas on which so much of baseball history was painted.
AstroTurf has seen much team success but we also want to recognize great individual achievements as well, such as Nolan Ryan’s first and fifth no-hitter and you guessed it, we were there when it happened in Kansas City and in Houston. We were also at Riverfront in 1974 when Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth with 714 homeruns. In 1985, we were there as Pete Rose became the all-time hits leader in professional baseball as he stroked one to the AstroTurf in left field.
AstroTurf Becomes Part of Football History
Literally, hundreds of thousands of plays were made in MLB on AstroTurf and in the NFL it was no different. Such teams as the Cardinals, Bears, Bengals, 49ers, Eagles, and of course the Oilers were early adapters to artificial turf and popular venues such as the Silverdome and Superdome called on AstroTurf to provide their surface too.
AstroTurf was there for the biggest event in all of sports, the Super Bowl, multiple times. We were at Rice Stadium in Houston in 1974 as the Dolphins defeated the Vikings in Super Bowl VIII. When the Cowboys beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XII, the world was watching and AstroTurf was there. In 1981 the Raiders defeated the Eagles to win Super Bowl XV and right there under the feet of the champions was AstroTurf. We followed that by being the field of choice for the Super Bowl in 1986, 1990, 1992, 1997 and 2002.
We were there for the “Miracle at the Meadowlands” and also in 1985 as probably the greatest defense in NFL history ran roughshod over the rest of the league on the way to a Chicago Bears world championship. We were there for one of the greatest running back performances in NFL history as Earl Campbell ran wild on Monday Night Football to the tune of 199 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Our NFL history is rich with the Pro Bowl playing on our turf in 1974 and 1976 but more recently, NFL superstars came together to play on a premium AstroTurf system at the 2017 Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
In an age of multipurpose stadiums, AstroTurf was a Godsend to groundskeepers working fruitlessly trying to keep up a natural grass field. With the development of artificial turf, professional baseball could be played on the turf on Saturday and then it could be converted for the NFL to roll in on Sunday. Superstars from two major sports were achieving greatness on our fields during the same weekend and we were there to see it all happen.
But the pros weren’t the only ones performing on AstroTurf. It was for everyone. Colleges far and wide were seeing the benefits of AstroTurf and installations were going in from the University of Washington to West Virginia University – from the University of Alabama to the University of Nebraska and many more in between. And on one of those fields, Andre Ware was setting records for the most passing yards in a quarter with 340 and most passing yards in a half with 517 yards. On one of those fields, Archie Griffin was punishing defenses as he earned two Heisman trophies. On our turf we viewed what many consider the greatest college game of all time in 1971 when Nebraska defeated Oklahoma 35-31 on their way to another title. It was an AstroTurf goal line that Penn State couldn’t cross against Alabama in 1979 in what was one of the greatest goal line stands in history to decide the National Championship. As we said before, too many great plays and players to mention. Too many Heisman trophy winners, too many game winning catches and too many goal line stands than we can name. Not to brag too much, but wouldn’t you want to tell your friends about seeing such things? We were there.
College bowl games, the Olympics, international tournaments, concerts, championship games and pretty much anything played on a field that you can name, and we have played a part. From that first pitch in the Astrodome on April 8th, 1966 to the largest crowd ever to see a college football game in person, The Battle at Bristol, AstroTurf was there and will continue to be there in the future to witness great moments in sports.
The Best is Yet to Come
We have an amazing past to look back on and we enjoy telling you about it but the fact is, great moments are happening every day on AstroTurf at every level, and in multiple sports. Today, on an AstroTurf field at the LA City Parks, some kid is imitating his favorite professional soccer player and dominating the game. At some High School a running back is setting his sights on Journey Brown’s rushing record of 722 yards and 10 touchdowns in one game that he achieved on our field in 2015. On some Division I Baseball AstroTurf diamond a college player is hitting for the cycle. On some Division I, II or III Field Hockey AstroTurf field, a team is driving towards an NCAA championship.
We are still in the middle of writing our story and we look forward to adding many more chapters while providing great turf for great moments that occur on it. Truth is, our history is updated daily and will continue to be as long as athletes are striving for greatness and we can provide them with a premium playing surface to help them achieve it.
Watching history being made is great, but being at the center of it is amazing.
By: Gary Jones