The Texas Rangers announced the club will install a specially designed synthetic grass playing surface for the new Globe Life Field which opens in March 2020.
The synthetic grass field will be provided by Shaw Sports Turf with installation completed by Texas-based Paragon Sports Constructors.
The choice to go with Shaw Sports Turf is rooted in data, and supported by extensive research as it relates to player safety. Shaw used Globe Life Park in Arlington’s current natural grass field as one of the benchmarks for its ongoing playability study, conducting a series of tests on that playing surface in August 2017.
In addition to the benchmarking research, Shaw Sports Turf is funding and participating in a kinesiology study with Auburn University. This study’s main goal is to research how players react on certain surfaces and then use that data to tune systems for player safety and optimal performance.
The goal is not to only have the highest performing synthetic grass, but also to have the highest performing surface for baseball. This research is based on seven playability metrics and a patented data analysis tool that compares system characteristics to top-level natural grass surfaces. Shaw Sports Turf’s newest evolution in baseball, the B1K “Batting a Thousand” system, is a result of this research.
“From our first visit with the staff at Shaw Sports Turf, we were clear that a synthetic grass surface for Globe Life Field would only be a consideration if it could deliver the best surface in Major League Baseball and address the concerns we had related to impact on the players,” said Rob Matwick, Rangers Executive Vice President of Business Operations. “Months of detailed research that included extensive input from our Baseball Operations group from both a health and performance aspect have resulted in this decision.
“Shaw’s commitment to research and development have been second-to-none,” said Matwick. “However, its engagement with the study at Auburn demonstrated to our staff that Shaw was just as concerned about player safety as we were.”
Jamie Reed, the Rangers’ Senior Director of Medical Operations and Sports Science, has been heavily involved in the turf studies at Auburn University and has been the Rangers’ primary point person on the safely and performance aspects of researching playing surfaces. This has included site visits and testing with minor league players on turf surfaces.
“During 37 years in professional baseball, my emphasis has been on player safety and the prevention of injuries,” Reed said. “As we did the research and studies on determining our new field surface, these goals have been the main priority from the start. I am very confident that this is going to be a great product that no player has ever experienced in his career.”
By using the data analysis tool, the system can be tuned to meet the playability characteristics that matter most to the team. The system provided to the Rangers will be specific to their needs and unique to Globe Life Field. The Rangers will opt for the B1K natural system, which employs a natural, sustainable infill called Geofill. The system results in excellent ball surface and player surface interaction. The ball bounce will be in line with bounce trajectories on natural grass. Improved player surface interaction results in less lower-extremity fatigue and true reaction times. Player safety and performance played a major role in the Rangers decision.
B1K is a dual fiber turf system comprised of Shaw’s high-performance Strenexe® XD slit film and Bolt® monofilament. This system provides excellent durability and functionality by minimizing the infill from “splashing,” maintaining adequate infill levels across the field. The Bolt fiber provides realistic ball roll, friction and natural grass aesthetics. These characteristics ensure that the playing surface at Globe Life Field will appear nearly identical to the current surface in Globe Life Park, including keeping clay base paths. The fan experience in the park will be maintained at the highest level.
B1K natural was also an important element in the Rangers choice regarding their concerns with environmental impact and sustainability. The Geofill infill used in the system is made of coconut husks and fibers, which is a rapidly renewable resource. The infill requires much less water than natural grass, thus resulting in significant levels of conservation.
“The Texas Rangers are a franchise that definitely does its homework and they don’t take any decision lightly, especially this one. We are very excited for the opportunity to partner with them on this project,” said Vice President of Shaw Turf Chuck McClurg. “Throughout their research and our discussions with them, they have placed an emphasis on player safety and team performance. 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.”
The installation of the artificial turf will be entrusted to Texas-based Paragon Sports Constructors, a long time Shaw Sports Turf partner. Paragon Sports Constructors brings over 30 years of athletic facility construction and sports field installation experience to the project. Their experience has earned Paragon Sports Constructors a reputation of unparalleled technical expertise and customer service. In addition to building the playing field and installing the B1K system at Globe Life Field, Paragon Sports Constructors will provide ongoing service of the field to ensure that the playability metrics for ball and athlete performance are maintained. Paragon has worked with Shaw on the installation of baseball fields at a number of facilities, including local fields at Highland Park and Rockwall High Schools.
“Shaw’s commitment to R and D and product innovation are key reasons we choose to partner with them,” said William Chaffe, President of Paragon Sports Constructors. “The Rangers had a difficult decision but I think ultimately they were convinced by Shaw’s data that their synthetic system would be on par with the best natural surfaces in the Majors. It is clear that the Rangers organization really took their time and made the effort to thoroughly investigate their options for Globe Life Field.”