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FieldTurf Sets Record Straight on Tropicana Field Replacement

News broke yesterday of the replacement of the FieldTurf surface at Tropicana Field with a competitive turf system from Astroturf.

“Astroturf’s marketing surrounding the recent replacement at Tropicana Field was misleading,” commented FieldTurf President Eric Daliere. “We want to set the record straight and make sure our customers and the rest of the industry know the whole story.”

During their time on FieldTurf Tampa Bay flourished. The initial installation was completed in 2000 with a new field following in 2007. It is important to note that Tampa Bay purchased both fields from FieldTurf. During that time they won two American League East titles and went on to a World Series. The 2008 World Series on FieldTurf was the first ever played on infilled artificial turf.

Tampa Bay has always been satisfied with their FieldTurf system and in both 2000 and 2007 they had the opportunity to install Astroturf, but chose not to, siding with the player-friendly and high performance FieldTurf system.

In fact, in a special that aired on “Inside the Rays”, Rick Nafe, Vice President, Operations and Facilities for the team said “We had FieldTurf shoot it out with Astroturf and it (FieldTurf) just won hands over”

Team President Matt Silverman followed that up by saying “This (FieldTurf) is the safest product for our players. It’s going to play really true. This is an expense you have to bear and one that you’re happy to bear because it’s the right thing for the players”

To view the complete “Inside the Rays” feature in order to find out what they really think of FieldTurf, visit: http://www.fieldturf.com/media/tampa-bay-and-fieldturf/

“I am extremely proud to be associated with the brand that has become synonymous with high performance in the world of baseball,” said Tampa Bay All-Star Evan Longoria. “Playing on FieldTurf certainly leads to truer hops and a more consistent ball bounce – especially when compared to grass infields and other kinds of artificial turf. Knowing exactly how the ball will react once it hits the surface contributes largely to my abilities to properly field ground balls and read how the ball will react when coming off of a bat. The consistency that comes with playing on FieldTurf was certainly a factor that contributed to me winning the 2009 Gold Glove.”

What Astroturf’s press release didn’t tell you is the real reason why Tampa Bay is installing their product – they are getting a free field.

As reported by Don Muret of the SportsBusiness Journal, in February 2010 MLB Properties and AstroTurf signed a three-year licensing deal, making them the league's official provider of synthetic turf. The agreement was tied to a free AstroTurf carpet being installed for the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, which was confirmed by league officials, along with another field for Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field. In addition, the report confirmed that AstroTurf will pay MLB a royalty for each field it sells to baseball programs at the professional, college, high school and recreational level. Those fees range from $4,000-16,000 depending on the product.

“We had initially been approached by MLB Properties with the same offer but despite our proud relationship with them and several of its member clubs to us it just didn’t make sense,” said Daliere. “Our baseball customers buy our product because of our grass-like ball bounce and ball roll along with our patented non-marking rubber. We were not willing to have them subsidize free fields or large royalty fees. When Tampa Bay and Toronto paid for turf, they chose FieldTurf.  We would encourage any clients looking to obtain a baseball field from Astroturf to ask for the same deal that Toronto and Tampa Bay got.”

Astroturf made several product claims in their press release as well, specifically relating to their “Horseshoe fiber”. Extensive testing has shown that the new FieldTurf Revolution fiber stands up longer and is more durable over time. The Revolution fiber also incorporates the best UV protection available in the industry.

In terms of safety and playability, there is no comparison between FieldTurf and competing systems. The proof is already in the ground. Below are just a few comments made by some of college baseball’s most respected coaches over the years:

“We looked at and tested several systems and none came close to the grass-like playability of the FieldTurf surface. We discovered that other systems were simply too soft and did not provide a realistic ball bounce. Our infielders felt that FieldTurf emulated natural grass, and this made our decision an easy one.”

Pat Casey - Head Coach, Oregon State University Beavers

“It’s working out great for us. Our kids really like it. You get a lot of great hops. You don’t get those bad hops that you get when there are lips on the field and so forth. They seem to like it very much.”

Fred Hill - Rutgers Baseball Coach

“We’ve played on FieldTurf for three years and I don’t think we’ve had an infielder make an error.”

Marty Lees - Oregon State Beavers Assistant Coach

Through over 30 NCAA Division 1 game fields and more than 400 baseball installations worldwide, FieldTurf has proven to combine the beneficial biomechanical properties of natural grass, with the best attributes of a durable synthetic system – better than any other alternative in the marketplace

This type of baseball-specific performance is accomplished with some of FieldTurf’s proprietary baseball technologies. FieldTurf’s non-marking rubber delivers clean baseballs and uniforms, the patented sand/rubber infill mix allows for better ball bounce, the special warning track infill is designed for big league playability, and the strongest and softest turf fibers in the industry provide for optimal durability and sliding.

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