PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The University of Portland baseball program is on the rise, and an iconic baseball brand is helping them get there. The Pilots will kick off the 2015 season next spring on a brand new baseball field from AstroTurf®, the originators of the synthetic turf industry. Installation of the state-of-the-art playing surface is underway. A camera has been set up and uploads photos to AstroTurf's website every five minutes. The progress can be tracked here.
The new AstroTurf diamond will be part of a comprehensive renovation plan for Joe Etzel Field. The first phase of the project will feature immediate improvements such as new fencing, bullpens, a scoreboard and the cutting edge synthetic turf system. Coast2Coast Turf, a certified AstroTurf installer, will put their expertise to work in establishing the artificial surface at Etzel Field. Phase II is a long-term development plan that will include new grandstands, dugouts, lighting, a press box and other amenities. These modernizing enhancements are made possible by donations as part of the university's RISE campaign.
"We're all excited to see the transformation of Etzel Field into something really special," said Buzz Stroud, associate AD of operations for the school. "That begins with our new AstroTurf field, which will give the stadium a distinct playing surface with several key advantages."
Joe Etzel Field will soon feature an AstroTurf Diamond Series synthetic surface. The customized artificial field involves a multi-tiered turf system specifically engineered to replicate the various surfaces found on a baseball diamond. The outfield and infield turf are comprised of longer pile synthetic fibers that mimic the look, feel and performance of natural grass. The base paths and other "dirt" portions of the field are covered with a shorter pile turf that provides a smoother surface. Although each component of the field has unique fiber types, both utilize AstroTurf's patented RootZone® technology. This proprietary system encapsulates and stabilizes the sand and rubber infill, ensuring optimal ball bounce. It also prevents inconsistencies from particle migration and contributes to durability and field longevity. The result of this comprehensive design is a synthetic field that matches the playability and consistency of both grass and clay. Etzel Field's new playing surface is 100% synthetic, including the pitcher's mound.
Originally called Pilot Stadium after its construction in 1988, the home to UP baseball was renamed in 2004 to honor the school's all-time winningest baseball coach and former athletic director, Joe Etzel. Current head coach Chris Sperry was a catcher and infielder under Etzel and a two-time team captain during his playing days at UP. At the helm since 1998, Sperry is now the second all-time winningest coach in school history and led the team to its first ever national ranking in 2010.
"We're on the precipice of something great with the new designs for Etzel Field," said Coach Sperry. "From a coaching standpoint, I'm excited for what the new AstroTurf surface will enable us to accomplish. Inclement weather will no longer prevent us from training and practicing and we'll be able to complete games in foul weather that we couldn't before."
AstroTurf's next generation baseball surfaces have grown increasingly popular in the college game. By synthesizing proprietary technology with innovative design concepts and engaging coaches in the developmental process, AstroTurf has engineered the next generation of baseball-specific synthetic turf. These fields combine the look, feel, and performance of a traditional grass and clay diamond while requiring far less maintenance. In addition, the advanced drainage systems and durable surfacing allow teams to play and practice in difficult weather conditions, a huge plus for college teams whose seasons begin much earlier than their professional counterparts.
Since 2009 more Division I baseball programs have chosen AstroTurf than all other synthetic turf brands combined. That field of reference includes Hawkins Field, home of the 2014 College World Series Champion Vanderbilt Commodores, who play on the same next generation AstroTurf playing surface as the one the Pilots will begin play on in the spring.
"It's an honor to be a part of the rejuvenation of Etzel Field," said James Traynor, sales manager for AstroTurf. "This is AstroTurf's first Division I baseball installation in the Northwest, and we're grateful to the university for the opportunity to show them why the Diamond Series is the best baseball product on the market today."
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.