SAN ANTONIO, March 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A year after drawing huge crowds for the Alamodome's first ever baseball event, H-E-B Big League Weekend is returning to the Alamo City. And once again, AstroTurf® will be a part of every shoe-string catch and tape-measure blast. Preparations to convert the iconic arena into a baseball stadium are nearing completion, including the installation of a 133,000 square foot custom-made AstroTurf field (video of last year's conversion can be seen here). The action gets underway Friday, March 28th with the first of two exhibition games between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. The weekend festivities will also include a Hall of Fame luncheon, sports collectibles show, and a postgame concert on the field following Saturday's game.
"AstroTurf is thrilled to be involved with Big League Weekend for a second time," said AstroTurf President Bryan Peeples. "It's an exciting event and a great opportunity to showcase our baseball product, which combines years of research with the latest in synthetic turf technology."
Baseball may be our cherished national pastime with a fan base that spans multiple generations, but this is not your grandfather's AstroTurf. The field installed will be an AstroTurf 3D52 Diamond synthetic turf system. This third generation artificial playing surface incorporates a few distinct and advanced elements that make it truly unique. The "grass" is a diamond shaped monofilament fiber used primarily in baseball fields – like the SkyDome in Toronto - for its playability and natural feel. The proprietary RootZone™ is a patented thatch system of texturized nylon which holds the sand and rubber infill in place and radically reduces cleat penetration, leading to a faster and more consistent playing surface with a cleaner look. The artificial turf will has been tailored to the dimensions of the baseball configuration and includes a warning track and infield cut-outs to enable the players to bat and slide on good old fashioned dirt.
Good old fashioned Texas hard ball might be one way to characterize the aggressive style of play exhibited by Nolan Ryan, Major League Baseball's all-time leader in strikeouts and no-hitters. Setting records must be in the bloodline. Under the stewardship of Founder Reid Ryan, Nolan's son, Ryan-Sanders Baseball acquired a minor league ball club in 2000 that became the Round Rock Express and promptly broke the Texas League attendance record in only its first season of existence. The group has continued to grow over the last 14 years and it now counts two thriving minor league teams, a baseball school, a sports turf services division, and a lucrative entertainment company under the Ryan-Sander umbrella. Big picture success doesn't come without focused attention to detail, and when the group was tasked with the Big League responsibilities of putting on the first ever baseball games in the Alamodome, choosing the right playing surface was crucial.
"Running a major baseball event like Big League Weekend starts with the field of play," said Ryan-Sanders Baseball CEO Reese Ryan. "AstroTurf's state-of-the-art turf system gave us the look, feel, and play of natural grass with the adaptability of a customized field to meet the specific demands of our project."
With endorsements like this one and countless others, it's no wonder AstroTurf carries the title of Official Synthetic Turf of Major League Baseball. But more than rave reviews, AstroTurf fields carry scientific approval. An independent study at Michigan State University, funded by NFL Charities, found that AstroTurf 3D systems looked and performed more like natural grass than any other synthetic product measured. In extensive testing, AstroTurf 3D systems performed most like natural grass in specific categories such as ball roll, slide resistance, and the biomechanical function of cleats penetrating and releasing properly. The results mean that AstroTurf's fields excel when it comes to speed, performance, playability and safety.
Making sure the field lives up to its potential requires a dedicated crew on the ground. Kevin Swank and his Texas-based team at AstroBuilders - who handled installation of the custom designed AstroTurf field for the inaugural Big League Weekend – have returned to ensure this year's field performs as expected. Last year, working with an abbreviated timeframe due to the busy event schedule at the Alamodome, the experienced installers laid the synthetic turf down in eight days, or roughly one third the time of a standard project. This year's window was only three days. It's another typically stellar performance from the outfit that's no stranger to custom AstroTurf surface installation, having worked on several similar projects including a recent convertible system at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
Since it opened in 1993, the Alamodome has hosted its share of sporting spectacles, from Final Fours to NFL Football, professional bull riding to bowl games, NBA Champions to championship boxing. In order to transform the behemoth into a Major League ready ballpark for last year's first ever baseball event, the Alamodome added dugouts, fencing, bullpens, and the aforementioned 133,000 square foot custom-made AstroTurf field. Building upon last year's foundation, the facility has undergone some minor modifications geared toward enhancing the fan experience. They include additional lighting, a slight repositioning of the field to improve sightlines from the stands, and the relocation of the bullpens from the South End tunnels to the first and third base lines.
For athletes and sport enthusiasts, AstroTurf has redefined the way the game is played. The company offers advanced, state-of-the-art, multi-sport and specialized synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies, leveraging the industry's first vertically integrated manufacturing system. A growing number of high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority, and safety. To learn more, visit www.astroturf.com.