AstroTurf is a registered trademark of Textile Management
Associates, applied to a particular kind of artificial
turf. The term is sometimes used as a generic description of any kind
of artificial turf.
AstroTurf was invented in 1965 by employees of Monsanto and patented in
1967 under the name "Chemgrass." It was renamed AstroTurf after
its first well-publicized use at the Houston
Astrodome baseball stadium.
The advantage of AstroTurf over grass turf is quite evident: an
artificial turf requires minimal maintenance. It is also ideal for indoor
stadiums, since it does not require sunlight. However, an AstroTurf
surface is much harder than one of natural grass. Players describe the
impact as similar to falling on concrete (Vince Lombardi called AstroTurf
"fuzzy cement"). Players' cleats can get caught in the turf,
which does not give the way grass and dirt does, causing the injury known
as "turf toe". Also, in baseball, the ball tends to bounce
higher and faster. Because of these considerations, the use of AstroTurf
was infamously controversial among baseball fans. Additionally, a general
gut-feeling opposition against "technocracy" manifested itself
in the anti-AstroTurf sentiment.
AstroTurf is being replaced in many stadiums with newer types of
artificial turf—two common brands of this new generation being FieldTurf
and Sport Grass. These materials have properties much closer to natural
grass turf. AstroTurf's version of this new artificial grass was called
Astroplay, but in 2004, Southwest Recreational Industries, who held the
rights to making AstroTurf, went out of business after filing for
bankruptcy. It is now sold by AstroTurf, LLC.