It has recently been reported that The Arizona Wildcats will be playing in a refurbished stadium come the 2013 season. If the athletic director gets his way the old turf surface will be replaced by a new synthetic turf surface – possibly supplied by FieldTurf.
The choice of installing a synthetic turf surface comes down to a few factors, similar to factors that are cited in the decision making process for other fields. Price and ongoing costs is certainly one big factor. Installation of a turf field typically costs around $1 million which may appear to be a steep upfront cost but the ongoing maintenance costs are far lower than the costs related to the natural grass surface.
Practice on the field will also be possible all year round without the problems of the playing field being ripped to shreds due to the high traffic levels.
Concerns about perceived negative factors surrounding artificial turf such as the high temperatures or abrasion injuries may be relieved to hear that with the newer 3rd generation synthetic turf both of these factors are being overcome. The newer form of synthetic turf features longer grass fibers made from polypropylene that sit in crumb rubber and silica fill. The result is a far more padded surface that is less prone to the abrasive nature of the sand-filled 2nd generation surfaces.
In fact, the new synthetic turf surface that FieldTurf and other similar companies supply now would be far more padded than a natural turf surface that is most likely to be hard and compacted, having been baked under the Arizona sun.
As far as the concerns over temperatures radiating from the surface of a synthetic turf field, the new monofilament fibers of today’s synthetic grass cuts down this heat significantly.
Those opposed to the replacement of natural grass with synthetic have also cited the risk of staph infection due to the bacteria living in the fibers. The fact is that bacteria cannot survive very long in synthetic turf and a recent study has demonstrated that there is no risk of MRSA emanating from playing on a synthetic turf surface.
With all of that being said, there is no guarantee of exactly what form the surface of the playing arena is going to take. It must be remembered that at this stage there is only the assertion that UA officials are “absolutely exploring” the option of replacing the natural grass with an artificial alternative.