History of the AstroTurf Brand
AstroTurf — it’s one of the most iconic brands in sports. While everyone recognizes the name, not everyone knows the history.
AstroTurf borrows its name from the Houston Astrodome, where it was first used in a professional sports venue fifty years ago this year. The space race was in full swing. It was a time of palpable optimism. A certain belief that man could conquer the constraints of nature with ingenuity and forward-thinking progress pervaded. The Astrodome was built in the midst of this feverish pursuit of the impossible. It was the first domed stadium and it was a marvel of sports architecture.
There was a major problem, though. The clear Lucite panels that comprised the dome created a glare. Astros outfielders and their opponents were blinded as they attempted — and failed — to catch pop-ups. The initial solution was to paint the ceiling to cut the glare. It worked, but another problem arose. Deprived of adequate sunlight, the grass died!
Meanwhile, Monsanto just had invented a brand new product they called “ChemGrass”. During the Korean War, the U.S. Army had found urban recruits to be less physically fit than rural recruits. Attributing this to lack of green space in cities, the Ford Foundation funded research for Monsanto to create a synthetic grass replica.
The Astrodome brought Monsanto in to install ChemGrass. It was a great success, and Monsanto capitalized on the popularity of its high profile installation to rebrand their grass replica. Thus the “AstroTurf” brand was born.
Over the half century since AstroTurf was first installed in Houston, technology has rapidly improved. NASA scientists no longer use the same computers to calculate trajectories. And these days, AstroTurf products come ever closer to replicating the feel, performance, and safety of the gold standard — natural grass.
Today AstroTurf harnesses its history of forward-thinking ingenuity and disciplined R&D to continuously improve its systems and to deliver playing surfaces with the best sport-specific performance, durability, and player protection.