The History of Astroturf

The History of Astroturf

Artificial football turf is a surface of synthetic fibers made to look like natural grass. Astroturf is most often used in arenas for sports that were originally or are normally played on grass.


Astroturf was patented in 1965 and originally sold under the name “ChemGrass.” Artificial turf first gained substantial attention in 1966, when it was installed in the year-old Astrodome, in Houston, Texas. The specific product used was “ChemGrass”, developed by Monsanto and rebranded as AstroTurf; this term since then became a generic trademark for any artificial turf throughout the late 20th century. Donald L. Elbert patented two methods to improve the product in 1971.

While AstroTurf was the industry leader throughout the late 20th century, other companies emerged in the early 2000s. FieldTurf, AstroTurf’s chief competitor since the early 2000s, marketed a product of tall-pile polyethylene turf with infill, meant to mimic natural grass more than the older products. This third-generation turf, as it became known, changed the landscape of the marketplace. Although SRI successfully marketed AstroPlay, a third-generation turf product, increased competition gave way to lawsuits.

Sports applications

1966 – First major installation of AstroTurf (ChemGrass) at the Houston Astrodome indoor stadium for the Houston Astros.

1969 – the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field in Philadelphia, at the time also home field of the Philadelphia Eagles, switched from grass to AstroTurf, making it the first National Football League stadium to use artificial turf.

1970 – synthetic grass began to be used for hockey fields.

2001 – FIFA originally launched its FIFA Quality Concept in February. A full international fixture for the 2008 European Championships was played on 17 October 2007 between England and Russia on an artificial surface.

2013 – FIFA supports synthetic grass systems in international matches.

Cricket: Some cricket pitches are made of synthetic grass or of a hybrid of mostly natural and some artificial grass, with these “hybrid pitches” having been implemented across several parts of the United Kingdom and Australia. The first synthetic turf cricket field in the USA was opened in Fremont, California in 2016.

Hockey: Further information: Field hockey history § The synthetic revolution. The introduction of synthetic surfaces has significantly changed the sport of field hockey.

Other applications

Landscaping: Since the early 1990s, the use of synthetic grass in the more arid Western states of the United States has moved beyond athletic fields to residential and commercial landscaping.

Airports: Artificial turf has been used at airports.

It has been over a half century since AstroTurf was first installed in Houston and technology has rapidly improved. And these days, AstroTurf products come ever closer to replicating the feel, performance, and safety of the gold standard — natural grass.

Today, there is a technically advanced sports surface for each sport, that has been designed to give a consistent performance for that particular sport. These sports systems have streaked ahead of the first generation of sports turfs.

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