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How Much Does a Turf Football Field Cost?

Turf football fields are more expensive than natural grass fields, and usually cost between $750,000 and $1,300,000 to install. Once completed, there’s quite a bit of maintenance involved to maintain the surface which can cost an additional $60-100,000 per year. In comparison, many grass fields cost 25-35% less to build and maintain. However, artificial fields are more durable and can handle more consistent use without serious damage.

My football career came to an end around the same time that artificial fields were becoming the norm over grass fields or astroturf. In my first game on astroturf, I hit the ground hard and dislocated the thumb on my throwing hand. This makes me biased, but I never had much affection for any artificial field after that.

But is the cost difference between turf and grass big enough to justify the convenience of one of the new synthetic grass designs? In this article, we’ll look at the cost difference between these options and the other pros and cons of an artificial playing surface.

Key Takeaways

  • Artificial fields usually cost between $750,000 and $1,300,000 to install depending on the size and quality of the material.
  • This is much more expensive than grass fields which are cheaper to build and maintain.
  • Astroturf is a carpet-like turf that was one of the first synthetic turfs, but the hard surface made players more susceptible to injuries and has been mostly phased out in professional venues.

What’s More Expensive: Artificial or Natural Grass?

Since artificial grass needs to be synthetically made, transported, and installed, these surfaces tend to be more expensive than natural grass. Artificial surfaces are usually made of polypropylene, polyethylene (two types of plastic), along with nylon which helps wick away moisture and maintain flexibility.

Depending on the quality and size of the surface, this can easily push the price over $1,000,000. [1]

Conversely, to grow and install a natural grass field, the price is typically much lower and usually won’t cost more than $800,000.

You would think that once installed artificial surfaces wouldn’t require much maintenance. But keeping these fields in playable condition can still be quite costly with yearly prices ranging from $60,000-$100,000 while natural surfaces only need around $40,000 in yearly maintenance costs.

So why go artificial? Along with being a better surface for most athletic events, artificial surfaces can stand up to more users without the quality of the turf deteriorating. Even on rainy or snowy days, there won’t be muddy holes or divots in an artificial field as there would be with a grass surface. If you have the budget, artificial grass is a superior surface.

What’s the Difference Between Artificial Grass and Astroturf

Technically, there’s no real difference between the two products. Astroturf is simply a type of artificial grass. But astroturf was the first type of artificial surface that was used in professional stadiums. Since it was the only real artificial option when it was implemented in stadiums like the AstroDome in Houston, astroturf became the shorthand version for all artificial surfaces until more products became available. 

Astroturf is more like carpet than grass. With less cushioning, the ball bounces higher and further than on grass surfaces. The minimal padding also makes it more likely to cause injuries when a player is tackled. Because of this, astroturf has been steadily phased out of many professional arenas.

Today, synthetic grass is the most common material used in sports stadiums. The blades of synthetic grass are longer than the surface of astroturf. This gives it a more realistic appearance although the longer blades can cause cuts and burns to players when they slide across the surface. [2]

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The extra cost of an artificial field is obviously a drawback and will prevent some football programs from installing one. There are certainly some benefits to playing on grass, and even some domed stadiums like the Arizona Cardinals chose to have a grass field instead of turf. But it sure seems like we’re heading toward an age where most teams play on some sort of artificial surface for better or worse.

As a fan, how do you feel about turf versus grass? Is there an aesthetic difference to you? Let us know in the comments below.


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