Given the current climatic conditions, synthetic surfaces have been explored as a viable option for Australian football/cricket ovals in drought regions in Australia. The aim of this paper is to describe the processes required prior to the installation of a synthetic surface to ensure player safety, and challenges in the development of criteria for a multi-sport surface. Artificial surfaces have been used for many sports worldwide for decades, but it is only since the late 1990s that the “third generation” turf surfaces made of long and more widely spread fibres of propylene or polyethylene filled with rubber granules have been adopted. These surfaces have proved satisfactory for some football codes and have grown in popularity in many parts of the world. Sports, such as, soccer, rugby union and hockey have developed specific criteria for synthetic turf manufacturing companies to satisfy prior to the installation of a field. In these instances, although it may be used by other sports after installation, the product is only obliged to meet the requirements set by one governing body. In Australia, however, the majority of Australian football ovals are used for cricket during the football off season. Therefore, in the development of criteria for player safety and to maintain the characteristics of the games on natural turf both Australian football and cricket had to be duly considered. A study was undertaken in 2008 to establish a set of criteria which would enable artificial surfaces to replicate the playing performance of natural turf for Australian football and cricket. Testing was undertaken on natural playing surfaces from elite to community level. Tests included hardness, traction, friction, abrasion, ball rebound, ball roll, angled ball behaviour and the establishment of a critical fall height. Australian football and cricket ball were used in the ball interaction tests and the studs/cleats used in both sports were tested for rotational traction. A climatic chamber was also used to determine the effects of different temperatures on the playing characteristics. Data from previous research employing the same protocols for surface characteristics were also considered in the development of a set of criteria. This research highlighted the important factors that need to be optimised for synthetic playing fields to be to be safe and suitable for use. This criteria has now been accepted by the Australian Football League and Cricket Australia and the use of synthetic surfaces for Australian football and cricket is imminent.