Football Terms – Artificial Surface
AstroTurf is an artificial surface used instead of grass on various professional and college football fields. It was invented in 1965 by two Monsanto employees, James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright. Originally called “Chemgrass,” the name was changed after it was installed in the Houston Astrodome in 1966.
Since grass will not grow in indoor arenas, AstroTurf became a popular substitute (although it can also be utilized outdoors). It is installed by placing a plastic carpet over a base consisting of asphalt and a mat. The hard surface makes for very fast sports action, but it can also result in numerous injuries (since the surface has no “give”).
The turf is normally stored in a pit below the surface of the field. Hydraulic winches drag the carpet up and install it on the dome’s floor, using an air blower system to reduce friction. Known as the Magic Carpet system, this process takes three hours to install the AstroTurf.
The first Super Bowl played on AstroTurf was Super Bowl VIII, held at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. The first World Series on AstroTurf took place in 1975, although the first one to take place entirely on the artificial surface was in 1980 (Royals vs. Phillies). In 1999, Real Madrid became the first European soccer club to use AstroTurf for their practice fields.
While it still covers many football fields throughout the United States, its popularity has waned in recent years. Newer stadiums have begun installing FieldTurf and AstroPlay as an alternative.