David Chany – who moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1960 and later served as Dean of the North Carolina State University College of Textiles – headed the team of Research Triangle Park researchers who created the first notable artificial turf. That accomplishment led Sports Illustrated to declare Chaney as the man "responsible for indoor major league baseball and millions of welcome mats."
Artificial turf was first installed in 1964 on a prep school recreation area in Rhode Island.The material came to public prominence in 1966, when AstroTurf was installed in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.The state-of-the-art indoor stadium had attempted to use natural grass during its initial season in 1965, but this failed miserably and the field conditions were grossly inadequate during the second half of the season, with the dead grass painted green. Due to a limited supply of the new artificial grass, only the infield was installed before the Houston Astros' home opener in April 1966, the outfield was installed in early summer during an extended Astros road trip and first used after the All-Star Break in July.
The use of AstroTurf and similar surfaces became widespread in the U.S. and Canada in the early 1970s, installed in both indoor and outdoor stadiums used for baseball and football. More than 11,000 artificial turf playing fields have been installed nationally. More than 1,200 were installed in the U.S. in 2013 alone, according to the industry group the Synthetic Turf Council.
Maintaining a grass playing surface indoors, while technically possible, is prohibitively expensive. Teams who chose to play on artificial surfaces outdoors did so because of the reduced maintenance cost, especially in colder climates with urban multi-purpose "cookie cutter" stadiums such as Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium, Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium and Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.