Diamondbacks installing synthetic grass at Chase Field
The Arizona Diamondbacks are going synthetic in 2019. In a press release, president and CEO Derrick Hall said, “Our Baseball Operations staff has completed extensive research, including site visits and player testing and we are all in agreement that this is the best decision for our franchise. Research has shown the performance and health benefits associated with playing on this surface that did not previously exist, which factored heavily into our decision. Additionally, our ability to keep the roof closed during the summer months will allow Chase Field to remain at a perfect temperature for our fans, which has become increasingly difficult over the last several years.”
Read more from the press release here. And here is a reaction to the news from Guive Mirfendereski, PhD, JD, managing editor of www.SynTurf.org, a website dedicated to information regarding the environmental and health risks associated with artificial/synthetic turf fields:
“So the lowly Diamondbacks have decided to go with plastic instead of natural grass. Listen to the drivel that the ownership has rolled out as the reason for adding yet another piece of desert to the desert. They say that they have “completed extensive research, including site visits and player testing and we are all in agreement that this is the best decision for our franchise.” Bull!
Show us the test results and name the players who truly believe that playing on this stuff is healthy and safe. All evidence points to players hating to play on this surface and suffer greater injury and joint pains than playing on natural grass. Heck, there are also news stories about how some conscientious managers sit their players because the team is about to play on artificial turf. They say that, “Research has shown the performance and health benefits associated with playing on this surface that did not previously exist.” Ha! Exactly the opposite – research is showing that players suffer greater injury on this surface.
Health benefits? Please! They say, “The challenges with growing natural grass in our climate and stadium have been well documented and we have considered alternate solutions for many years.” How come this was not an issue in the years that the D’s were a powerhouse—now suddenly maintaining the grass field has become a challenge. Nonsense. They say synthetic turf will save water. Right! Any half-sane person knows that synthetic turf needs routine watering as a matter of making the field playable – the water is needed to cool the plastic, to give the surface some ballast, and to keep the dust (silica sand) from rising into the air.
They also say, “Additionally, our ability to keep the roof closed during the summer months will allow Chase Field to remain at a perfect temperature for our fans, which has become increasingly difficult over the last several years.” Play at night, I say. Let’s face it – the management wants this surface so they can host other events on the field. I have news for you. The iconoclastic Fenway Park, where the grass grows lush due to good ground-keeping practices and the fans who do not mind the scorching summer heat and bone-penetrating chill of the autumn air, hosts all sorts of events from hockey to concerts. You do not hear the Red Sox ownership complaining about natural grass. I guess, when you have a team that is in the tank, you try to generate other forms of revenue, but has the management considered the risk to the players who have to suffer the unforgiving and punishing terrain that synthetic turf is? Also consider that synthetic turf runs 60 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature even in a closed setting. Where is the players’ outrage over this decision? Why is the Players Association sitting back and letting the management create a hazardous and unsafe work environment for the players?