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Hiram Bithorn Stadium Rolls Out FieldTurf’s Green Carpet

Finally, some good news for the Montreal Expos. While the Expos “home field” may not be consistent next year (22 games of the team’s 81 home games will be played in San Juan, Puerto Rico), at least their playing surface will be. Just weeks after the announcement that the Olympic Stadium in Montreal will install FieldTurf for the 2004 season, Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, the Expos home away from home, will convert their Astroturf field to FieldTurf in time for the 2004 season as well.

“We are pleased with the decision of the Municipality of San Juan to install FieldTurf at Hiram Bithorn Stadium prior to our first series in Puerto Rico” said Claude Delorme, Executive Vice-President of the Montreal Expos. “This decision allows us to play all 81 home games on the same synthetic surface. We thank FieldTurf for their responsiveness and turnaround time for delivery and installation of the new playing surface.”

Hiram Bithorn is the largest baseball stadium in Puerto Rico, located in downtown San Juan. Now 40 years old, it will undergo a 2 to 3 million dollar renovation that will include moving the fences and bleachers back 10 to 30 feet, the addition of new seats, refurbished clubhouses, and the new FieldTurf surface.

“The stadium is clearly investing in baseball, and they can rest assured that they will have the very best artificial grass surface available today,” said John Gilman, FieldTurf CEO. “FieldTurf will perform superbly and is very low maintenance by design.”

FieldTurf’s specially developed baseball surface uses a patented 66% sand and 34% non-marking rubber “infill”. Competitors’ turf systems are made up of rubber and sand in a 3:1 ratio, which FieldTurf engineers claim to be far inferior to the playing characteristics of FieldTurf. Mainly rubberized infill displaces too easily, causing divots and unnatural bad bounces.

Hiram Bithorn becomes the third Major League Baseball stadium to upgrade to FieldTurf’s revolutionary artificial grass system. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays installed FieldTurf at Tropicana Field in April of 2000. Other professional baseball teams currently playing on FieldTurf include the Tokyo Giants (Tokyo Dome) Yokohama Bay Stars (Yokohama Stadium) and the Guerreros de Oaxaca (Eduardo Vasconcelos Stadium).

Olympic Stadium in Montreal will take advantage of FieldTurf’s latest technology. A new convertible / removable FieldTurf surface will replace the tired Astroturf, allowing for easy transition or removal of the field to accommodate other events, as well as the ability to change from baseball to football and change logos in just hours.

FieldTurf will be the only modern generation “infilled” surface in the major leagues in 2004. FieldTurf’s biggest competitor, SRI Sports, makers of Astroturf, AstroPlay and NexTurf, filed for Bankruptcy Friday, February 13th in Georgia. Of note, only two companies had been given Major League Baseball’s stamp of approval, FieldTurf and SRI Sports.