For the fifth time in 20 years, the Tampa Bay Rays will be installing a new playing surface at Tropicana Field that will replace the AstroTurf that was installed in 2011. This new turf is supposed provide a firmer and truer surface and easier on the players.
The new system comes from Shaw Sports Turf one of the leading synthetic turf companies in North America providing quality and innovation. The Rays will be Shaw’s first Major League Team to use their product, which they will be paying for at a cost around $1-million, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The main difference between Shaw’s turf and that of the current Astro Turf is that there will be a hard foam pad installed between the concrete base and the new turf. The under filling of the Astro Turf was comprised of fiber blades with a rubber in-fill system and did not always provide a true bounce, especially in the infield.
According to team president Brian Auld, the new surface will be better for the players’ bodies and play a little truer.
There will be no changes to the all-dirt infield or the dirt paths around the outfield, and will be a bit darker in color. Auld also said that it would feature a shallower fill that should keep the blades standing up, and create less splash when a ball hits the surface. In the past, when a hard hit ball hit the surface, you could see little pellets splash, looking as though the ball went through a puddle of water.
When Tropicana Field opened the doors for baseball in 1998, the “Devil-Rays” played on flat Astro Turf, no padding nothing at all underneath. In 2000, they switched to a more grass looking surface called FieldTurf, which they replaced and stayed with in 2007. In 2011, as part of a sponsorship deal through Major League Baseball, the Rays installed Astro Turf.
“We continue to invest in Tropicana Field,” Auld said. “It’s our home and we want to make it the best venue we can for Major League Baseball.”