No splendor in real grass

Texas Rangers balk at grass for playing surface of new Arlington ballpark

Rangers balk at grass for playing surface of new Arlington ballpark

Globe Life Park in Arlington on opening day 2015
2019 will be the final season that the Texas Rangers will play on natural grass. Photo by Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers will install a specially designed synthetic grass playing surface at their new stadium, Globe Life Field, which is scheduled to open in March 2020.

The decision, announced January 31, will likely frustrate some baseball purists, who prefer to see the game played on natural grass. But, the organization says, it decided to go with synthetic grass after completing almost two years of research to satisfy the club’s total requirements for player safely, team performance, and fan experience.

The synthetic grass field will be provided by Shaw Sports Turf with installation completed by Texas-based Paragon Sports Constructors.

In the press release announcing the decision, the Rangers go into great detail about the controversial choice. They tout Shaw's testing of the natural grass field at Globe Life Park in Arlington as a way for them to achieve the highest performing surface for baseball, one they call the B1K “Batting a Thousand” system.

“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,” says Rob Matwick, Rangers executive vice president of business operations, in the release. “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.

The Rangers and Shaw proclaim that the B1K natural system results in excellent ball surface and player surface interaction, and that the ball bounce will be in line with bounce trajectories on natural grass. As such, they say 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.

Left unsaid in the release is that with Globe Life Field being a retractable roof stadium, growing natural grass would not have been as easy a prospect as it is at Globe Life Park in Arlington. However, fans will have 81 more chances to see baseball played on natural grass in 2019.

The Rangers open the season at home against the Chicago Cubs on March 28.