The University of Kentucky Baseball program just finished off their last season at Cliff Hagan Stadium, as next year the Bat Cats will be in a new $49 million stadium, which is currently under construction. UK has modernized this new stadium as much as possible, including the playing surface. Kentucky elected to go with all artificial turf (AstroTurf) except for the pitcher’s mound and pitcher’s mound in the bullpens for the playing surface in the new stadium.
Big Blue Banter did a Q&A with AstroTurf Director of Baseball & Softball Operations Aaron Klotz.
B3: What exactly is the Diamond Series?
AK: We try to replicate our Diamond Series to natural grass. With our infield/outfield grass area our infill mix is specifically formulated to replicate grass and same with our infield clay area is replicated as clay.
B3: Is there a difference to how the baseball reacts to the diamond series turf compared to natural grass?
AK: Slightly, but our systems are made to replicate natural grass and clay. So we get it very, very close. We did some testing at Cliff Hagan Stadium to replicate how the ball reacts to our turf to be as close as we can to the new stadium. As for example one of our tests was taking a ball from a machine and see how it bounces in the infield area. We measured the bounce, how high the bounce and how far the ball rolled.
B3: Does the weather affect the turf at all?
AK: Only slightly. When the weather is colder the turf may become firmer with a little more speed. Let’s say it rains most of the day you won’t tell it rained on the field after an hour.
B3: Longevity of the turf?
AK: The turf can last up to 8-12 years depending on how much usage. In high usage areas, for example, home plate area we have come up with a velcro solution where we can replace that area with velcro replacements.
We want to thank Aaron Klotz for taking time to answer our questions. Installation of the new playing surface could start within the next month.