Best Sub-Base for Batting Cage Turf Rolls? Its not a concrete slab.
Published September 26, 2023
We get this question a lot. Or worse, customers call and say they just poured a concrete slab for their batting cage and are going to lay their turf over it.
There are several problems with this:
- Drainage. Batting Cage Turf is made to drain. Some folks use a padded turf for cages, which does not drain, but we believe padded turf is overkill if only being used for batting cages. It’s manufactured with drainage holes, punched in at the end of the manufacturing process to drain at a certain number of gallons per hour on athletic fields. It’s installed over a crushed rock base, which inherently leaves room for water to go through the turf, through the spaces between the rocks, and away, which is why turf drains so quickly and is playable after a short time. You lose this effect when the turf is laid on a concrete slab where there is nowhere for the water to drain it. Many batting cage facilities are outside but “covered.” We’ve converted countless tennis courts to batting cages which were “covered.” Rain often comes in sideways, and old tennis courts are not laid with crown where water will drain outwards. “Covered” batting cages can still be wet and “puddled” for hours or even days after heavy rains. So if you insist on pouring a concrete base, at least establish some sort of crown to it, so the water has a way to drain outwards.
Cost. Concrete is expensive compared to a simple crushed rock sub-base. It costs, on average $6 per sq ft to concrete something, which is about $6,000 for a 15′ x 70′ batting cage. The typical batting cage only needs about 4 inches of crushed rock base to compact nicely so the turf can lay flat. A ton of crushed rock base only costs about $60 and you’ll need roughly 36,000 lbs, or 18 tons, per 15 x 70 cage, which is a cost of 18 tons x $60, or $1,080 and maybe a delivery charge of $150. That’s roughly $5K less to have a crushed rock base instead of concrete for 1, standard 15′ x 70′ cage.
- Impact attenuation. Are you running agility drills on this turf? Athletic fields are required to have GMAX tests, which test for impact attenuation. You want some level of give. Concrete sub-bases will make the surface harder if you are planning on doing any agility training or drills. A crushed rock base is a bit softer and friendlier on the knees.
- End of Life. Are you the owner of the space? You can always concrete the area later if the Batting Cage Facility doesn’t work out. You can concrete over the gravel or scoop it out with a bobcat in half a day after removing the turf. If you concrete it first, then you’ll have to demo the concrete and pay the dumpster fees to get it out of there, if you want to convert it into anything else.
In conclusion, don’t overthink it. Don’t over-do it. You don’t need to spend thousands more than you need to for high school kids to hit baseballs on it. Spend the extra thousands on other equipment, uniforms or tournament fees. You’re probably going to need it.
As always, call the ATXTurf team with questions. 866.428.2809.