New synthetic turf is expected at Sutter Health Park for A’s baseball in 2025. Here’s why

In the Spotlight is a Sacramento Bee series that digs into the high-profile local issues that readers care most about. Story idea? Email

Players for the Oakland Athletics and members of the organization held a meeting earlier this month while the team was in San Diego to update the planning process regarding improvements for their future home in West Sacramento, Sutter Health Park, where the team will play temporarily beginning next spring.

“It seems like everything’s on track to be ready, and it should be adequate for being a big league facility at least,” said second baseman Zack Gelof, the A’s representative for the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Among the changes being made to the minor league ballpark during the offseason will be the addition of a synthetic turf field on the infield and outfield, Gelof said, in order to compensate for wear and tear.

Both the A’s and Sacramento River Cats, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, will call the 24-year-old stadium home next season. That means there could be as many as 156 season games played there, not including spring training or playoffs, during the MLB team’s stay over the next three or four years.

“There’s gonna be a game on that field every day for the entire summer,” A’s outfielder and designated hitter Brent Rooker said. “So that’s impossible to keep up with the grounds crew.”

Gelof said the artificial surface will be similar to what the Arizona Diamondbacks installed at Chase Field in 2019. The grass will be synthetic in the infield and outfield, while the infield dirt will remain in place. The Diamondbacks switched from natural grass because of the logistical challenges of growing grass in the desert climate while playing in a dome with a retractable roof.

The development of artificial turf has improved significantly over the years. While synthetic football fields are often associated with more injuries, the surface the Diamondbacks installed was designed to be less bouncy than previous turfs, aiming to be better on athletes’ bodies.

Hot Sacramento summers

The Diamondbacks said the synthetic field would have environmental benefits in Arizona: cutting down on air conditioning to cool fans down for games after keeping the roof open during the day to help the grass grow. Additionally, the team said it cut its water consumption by 90%, down roughly 2 million gallons per year.

Air conditioning isn’t a factor for fans at the West Sacramento ballpark. Sutter Health Park would be the sixth MLB venue with a synthetic surface, but it would be the only stadium without a dome or retractable roof. The others: Chase Field (Diamondbacks), Globe Life Field (Texas Rangers), LoanDepot Park (Miami Marlins), Rogers Centre (Toronto Blue Jays) and Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays).

The heat of the grass could be a concern during Sacramento’s hot summer months, which often hit triple-digit temperatures. Artificial surfaces are generally 10 to 30 degrees warmer than natural grass in direct sunlight.

“I’m not really sure how that works,” Gelof said. “I’m just a baseball player. It should be fine. I know it’s crucial because if we’re going to be sharing (the stadium) with a Triple-A team. We can’t have regular grass and do that.”

A’s players have been in regular contact with team officials, MLB and the MLB Players Association regarding the upgrades being made to Sutter Health Park to make it viable for big league games. Talks remain ongoing and plans have not been finalized. Construction is expected to begin after the River Cats’ season ends in September.

Other improvements being discussed include building a new home clubhouse beyond the outfield wall, new weight rooms and batting cages for home and visiting clubs, renovating the current home clubhouse to house visiting MLB teams, upgrading camera wells for broadcasts, creating a new press box and broadcast booths, as well as improvements for fans including club seating and video boards.

A’s manager Mark Kotsay, who played at Sutter Health Park when the River Cats were the A’s top minor league affiliate, said officials are taking input from players and coaches regarding the design for the new home clubhouse.

“Let’s just call it the design of the building that’s going to house us for the time that we’re there,” Kotsay said. “Ultimately there’s people higher up than us who make those decisions, but they are listening and they are taking input.”

With their current lease at the Oakland Coliseum up after the 2024 campaign, the A’s announced in April they would play in West Sacramento for three seasons beginning in 2025, with an option for a fourth while they build a new stadium on the Las Vegas strip. That stadium deal has yet to be finalized, though the team hopes construction can begin next spring in time to open in 2028.

The River Cats, which are owned by Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, partnered with the A’s allowing them to play at the 14,000-seat venue. Ranadivé purchased the River Cats in 2022.