SBD/Issue 100/Facilities & Venues

AstroTurf Signs Deal As MLB's Official Synthetic Turf Provider

MLB Properties And AstroTurf Ink
Three-Year Licensing Deal
MLB Properties and AstroTurf have signed a three-year licensing deal, positioning the 45-year-old brand as the league's official provider of synthetic turf. The agreement is tied to a free AstroTurf carpet being installed for the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, officials confirmed. The new field, to be ready Opening Day, is valued at $2M, said AstroTurf President Bryan Peeples. In addition, AstroTurf will pay MLB a royalty for each field it sells to baseball programs at the professional, college, high school and recreational level, said MLB Properties Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith. Those fees range from $4,000-16,000 depending on the product, said AstroTurf Dir of Sales Troy Squires. Each surface will display MLB's logo and the AstroTurf brand. The vendor's primary market is college and high school baseball facilities, and AstroTurf execs are banking on the credibility gained from its relationship with baseball's highest level to grow business, Squires said. The deal may appear insignificant for MLB, considering the Blue Jays and the Rays are the only big league teams to play home games on artificial turf now that the Twins are moving to Target Field. "It's a small category, but we did not take it lightly," Smith said. Rogers Centre is AstroTurf's first MLB ballpark install since principals in Dalton, Georgia, acquired the brand's intellectual property, patents and trademarks from General Sports Venue in June. AstroTurf also produced a half-field for Dunedin Stadium, the Jays' Spring Training home.

STRIP SEARCH: AstroTurf's rolling strips, held together with Velcro seams, will replace a five-year-old FieldTurf pallet system in Toronto. The Jays had issues with installing and removing the 1,398 trays of turf during field conversions, said Rogers Centre VP/Building Services Kelly Keyes. The new setup also cuts the conversion time in half. "Most of the other multipurpose buildings have gone away and there are obviously not too many people [using artificial turf]," she said. "MLB came to us and said they had the perfect solution for us to get a new field. Otherwise, it wouldn't have happened so fast." The Jays do have some out-of-pocket costs. They have to buy new equipment to install the artificial surface for baseball and remove it for motorsports, ice shows, U2 and Bon Jovi concerts in July, and two other summer concerts that have not been announced, Keyes said. The club also has to buy a separate AstroTurf surface for football. There are a few common panels used for both sports, but three-quarters of the field are unique to the football setup, Keyes said. This year, Rogers Centre plays host to 10 CFL Argonauts games and two Bills games.

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