Germany’s first synthetic turf baseball field with Green Technology at the Paderborn Ahorn Ballpark
Pilot project leads by example
In the direct vicinity of the Ahorn Sportpark in Paderborn is the Ahorn Ballpark, where we installed Germany’s first synthetic turf baseball field – a pioneering project in many respects, of which we are especially proud.
The Ahorn Ballpark is one of Germany’s first baseball fields and is home to the Untouchables Paderborner Baseball Club e. V., also known as the Paderborn U’s. The reason for its particular location is not least due to computer pioneer Heinz Nixdorf, who not only initiated the construction of the Paderborn sports facility and provided land from the company grounds for it, but also brought his enthusiasm for baseball to Paderborn from his time in the USA. The first men’s team of the club, founded in 1990, has played in the Bundesliga since 1996 – and very successfully too, with a total of six championship titles. Heinz Nixdorf’s love for the American ball game has been passed down the generations: today, his son Martin Nixdorf is the second chairman of the U’s, and his grandson Lasse Nixdorf plays on the U18 team. As well as the successful men’s team, the club also runs a youth and softball division.
The Untouchables play their home games at the Ahorn Ballpark, which was built in 1997 and, by all accounts, is the best baseball field in Germany of its time. The facility has three playing fields, and the stadium itself has space for around 1,200 spectators. One of the three playing fields has now been converted from a natural grass and gravel pitch to a purely synthetic turf pitch. The pitch is used as a multifunctional playing field for youth softball and baseball, both for training and matches. The chosen surface was our LigaTurf Cross, which combines straight and textured filaments. The benefits of both turf types come together in an ideal turf surface for various kinds of ball sports. According to the division of a baseball field, one part of the surface is coloured red, while the other features a BiColour design in lime green and field green. Incorporated in the turf is the logo of the Untouchables, which is also used by the women’s softball team.
The users of our LigaTurf Cross benefits from the use of straight filaments, which look and feel almost like real turf and have already been used successfully worldwide. What’s more, the textured filaments of the LigaGrass Pro CP provide low and easy maintenance, greater infill stability and increased turf volume: characteristics that benefit both youth and adult players in Paderborn.
The PolyBase GT ET base layer provides the ideal, i.e. elastic, substrate. A synthetic turf system typically consists of the artificial turf surface, infill granules – such as the mineral filler (sand) used in this project – and an elastic base layer or elastic layer. In the right combination, they guarantee the desired playing characteristics, toughness and durability. The elasticising layers in particular help protect players, dissipate force and maintain the playing characteristics. The elastic layer not only ensures the athletic functionality of the pitch, but also guarantees consistent, reliable drainage – as the water-permeability of the system helps to prevent surface sealing.
The PolyBase GT ET in our Green Technology product range combines the well-known functional benefits of the in-situ, prefabricated Rubber Mat with the ecological benefits of a recycled product and a revolutionary new technology for the climate-friendly utilisation of carbon dioxide. This allows us to further improve the already outstanding environmental footprint of our elasticising layers. In this regard, switching to a purely synthetic turf pitch is not just a pilot project for baseball in Paderborn, but for the green future of sport in general.
In Germany, baseball is inarguably still a niche sport – unlike in the United States or Canada, where baseball is immensely popular and attracts millions of fans from gigantic stadiums or on screen. With the first synthetic turf baseball field in Germany, we want to help rapidly boost its popularity here in our home country too. This not only means providing suitable training opportunities, but also intensive, well-organised youth work. In this sense too, Paderborn is ahead of the curve, as since 2013, the U’s have drawn from their own youth talent pool, instead of bringing in professional players from other baseball-playing countries. Since 2011, the U’s have also managed a baseball department at the Sportinternat Paderborn, a boarding school that specialises in sport. For its dedicated youth work, the club has twice been awarded the “Green Ribbon for Commendable Talent Promotion in Sports Clubs” by the Commerzbank and the German Sports Association (DSB).