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What Turf is Used for Football, Soccer, or Baseball Fields?

Panama City Beach turf

Turf, whether natural grass or synthetic, is one of those items fans and athletes aren’t likely to give much thought to. Like offensive lineman, if you don’t hear anything about it, that’s usually a sign that things are going well. However, lots of engineering and manufacturing effort has gone into the green (or blue in the case of Boise State) stuff under our favorite athlete’s feet. Much thought has also gone into selecting the type of turf that best suits it uses, and the level of competition being played on it. In this article, we will discuss the types of turf that are used for youth, high school, college and professional sports. We will answer the question, “what turf is used for football, soccer, and baseball fields?” Additionally, we will add a couple of fun facts that you may not know about turf.

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Turf Choices for Youth Sports and High School Sports vs. College and Pro Sports

For youth sports and high school fields, the most important considerations are durability and cost-effectiveness. On any given weekend, youth sports complexes like Panama City Beach Complex hosts soccer matches, baseball games, football games, and lacrosse tournaments. Its fields need to be durable enough to withstand the volume of activity it receives each year. The turf typically used for these types of fields is a slit-film or dual-fiber system. Slit-film turf is a flat piece of material with slits cut within it to develop a web. This type of turf is more durable than its monofilament counterpart and can withstand up to 3,000 hours of use per year.

College and professional sports teams primarily use single purpose stadiums (think Dudy Noble Stadium, the baseball-only venue at Mississippi State University). While durability is still important, playability and aesthetics are important as well. The turf used on these fields is more likely to be a specialty one made for the sport. Additionally, pro sports teams have fewer budgetary limitations. It’s not uncommon to see them switch out field systems after each season.

What Type of Turf is Used for Baseball Fields?

Many baseball fields use a dual fiber system with a thatch layer that combines slit film and monofilament fibers.  Where these fields differ from multipurpose fields is in the fiber length. Turf fibers in the infield are typically cut to 1.5 inches and 2 inches in the outfield to replicate the speed and bounce characteristics of natural grass.

Baseball teams have been known to adjust their turf speed based on the talent they recruit to their teams. This can be done by changing the sand to rubber ratio of the infill for the turf. Infill is the material placed in between blades to weight the turf down and help the fibers stand up straight. The more sand used, the faster the field becomes. This is good for slower teams. The more rubber used, the more likely you are to have ground balls bounce slower and higher. This works well for speedier teams and helps the defense get to more batted balls.

Turf Considerations for Football and Soccer Fields

While there’s no specific turf used for football fields, many of them use a slit film or dual fiber system. Both can standup to repetitive use during a football season. As a safety consideration, a pad system can be used under the turf layer of these fields for shock absorption.

For many of the top soccer pitches, a monofilament field system is used because its single strand fibers closely resemble real grass and is more aesthetically pleasing. These fields use sand infill to make them faster and use a pad system for safety.

Turf decisions are critical and can be expensive, if not done correctly. Our development team is made up of venue operators, designers, engineers, and construction professionals that not only advise you on the best materials, equipment, and design for your facility, but their relationships with the top vendors can save you thousands of dollars on your scope. Ready to launch your facility development project? Contact us at 727-474-3845.

NFL

15 out of 32 teams have turf field systems

MLB

5 out of 30 teams have turf field systems (3 began play on turf in 2021)

MLS

5 out of 27 teams have turf field systems

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