The Tampa Bay Rays are planning to install new artificial turf at Tropicana Field, according to a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times.
The new surface — developed by Shaw Sports Turf, pending final contract details — will have a similar fiber blade and rubber infill as the current AstroTurf, installed in 2011, the article went on to say. Improvements include a hard foam pad between the field and the stadium’s concrete base to lessen wear and tear on fielders.
Team president Brian Auld told the Tampa Bay Times the new turf will be “better for players’ bodies, play a little truer and aesthetically will be an improvement on TV and in person.”
The Rays are paying the nearly $1 million for the turf and installation.
According to the article, after looking at samples from four companies, the Rays chose Shaw to provide the fifth surface in 20 seasons under the tilted dome. They began play in 1998 on flat AstroTurf, went to a more grasslike FieldTurf surface in 2000 and an improved version in 2007, then made the 2011 switch to AstroTurf, which was installed for free as part of an MLB sponsorship deal.
The new surface is expected to be ready for players to test the final week of spring training. As part of the deal, the Rays are also installing a turf infield and practice area at their Port Charlotte training facility.