Sports surfaces
Natural turf

Natural grass remains the first choice for a number of elite sports venues and facilities. We look at recent, high-profile natural turf installations from around the UK

By Tom Walker | Published in Sports Management 2015 issue 1


O’BRIEN

Wasps’ new nest gets resurfaced

The new owner of Coventry’s Ricoh Arena – Wasps rugby club – has wasted no time in making its mark on its new home (see interview p. 34). The Aviva Premiership outfit has installed a new playing surface at the Ricoh – a stadium it shares with League One Coventry City Football Club.

O’Brien Contractors partnered with leading European sports pitch specialist GreenFields UK for the installation. The project involved site preparation works to remove the existing 8,000sq m playing surface before GreenFields UK installed the new natural XtraGrass turf, farmed in the Netherlands. Work started on 5 December 2014 and was completed ready for Coventry City’s home league game with Fleetwood Town on 20 December.

Wasps had initially announced its intentions to replace the current pitch during the summer to provide a playing surface suitable for the demands of both rugby and football matches. Following a consultation however, the rugby club decided to lay an interim pitch to ensure both clubs had the surface required to give them the best chance of success.

A spokesperson for GreenFields said: “The former pitch had been poorly maintained and the condition was such that we have provided a temporary replacement of the existing surface, using natural turf, farmed in the Netherlands. Works will commence in May 2015 to replace the entire natural grass pitch with XtraGrass and the deal incorporates a five year maintenance agreement to ensure the surface is kept in optimum condition.”

 



The works included removing the old pitch and replacing it with a new XtraGrass turf, farmed in Holland
 


The works included removing the old pitch and replacing it with a new XtraGrass turf, farmed in Holland
 
DESSO

Man City goes for Desso

Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) has opened the doors to its new City Football Academy – reported to have cost £200m (US$312m, €255m) – following a four-year project. The new facility in East Manchester – a stone’s throw from the club’s Etihad Stadium – forms a key part of plans to regenerate the former industrial wasteland. The two-year building phase was led by BAM Construction working to designs by Rafael Vinoly Architects.

After a successful experience using a Desso GrassMaster system at its main Etihad Stadium, the club chose to go with Desso as the surface at the academy too. Desso Sports installed 30,000sq m of its

reinforced natural grass, Desso Grass-Master and an additional 33,000sq m of its latest artificial turf technology – Desso iDNA X at the academy.

The strategy behind the partnership between MCFC and Desso Sports – which now includes both match and training pitches – is to enable young talent and the first team to perform on similar surfaces, regardless of weather conditions or the intensity of use.

Yves De Cocker, director, Desso GrassMaster, said: “The academy shares Desso’s desire – to provide high-level, consistent and durable playing fields catering for professional performance.”

Vincent Kompany, Manchester City’s captain, added: “Desso GrassMaster is becoming a premium standard in the sports industry. We, as players, are excited to play and train on such a high level surface.”

In addition to 17 pitches and three gyms, the City Football Academy boasts a 7,000-seat stadium for Elite Development squad teams, Manchester City Women’s FC and community use. MCFC will use the facility to train its current stars – as well as future prospects in the club’s youth teams – and has also worked to ensure parts of the facility will be available for use by the local community, particularly schoolchildren.

 



The City Football Academy boasts a total of 17 outdoor pitches across an 80-acre former brownfield site
 


PIC: ©shutterstock/Debu
The pitches at the academy match those used at the club’s Etihad Stadium
 
SIS pitches

New turf laid at Hampden after Glasgow 2014 repairs

The renowned ‘Hampden Roar’ was back in full voice in January, when the first competitive football game was held at Scotland’s national stadium since November 2013. The 14-month hiatus was brought on by Hampden Stadium playing centre stage for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The stadium hosted all of Glasgow 2014’s athletics events, for which a temporary 400m running track was installed.

The stadium has now been returned to its original configuration as a football stadium and Queen’s Park FC has returned as the venue’s primary tenant. As part of the works to turn the stadium back into a football arena, a new turf was installed by specialist sports contractor SIS Pitches.

Once the temporary structures of Glasgow 2014 had been removed, SIS came on site fighting seasonally challenging weather to begin a four-week project to reconstruct the pitch to its original level and contours, install new drainage, undersoil heating and a fully-automated irrigation system. The project involved removing sand, rootzone and gravel layers, undersoil heating, irrigation and drainage then installing new systems within a deeper profile, recycling materials if at all possible.

“The brief was to deliver a first-class playing surface in keeping with our status as Scotland’s national football stadium,” said Hampden Park managing director Peter Dallas. “The fixture on 3 January was the first opportunity the fans had to see the new pitch first hand.

“Under the annual maintenance programme, SIS will continue to monitor the pitch to ensure it continues to be presented in the best possible condition.”

SIS Pitches contracts director Phil Blackwell said the environment at Hampden created some unique challenges for the re-installing of the grass pitch. “In the late 1990s the pitch was built on a plateau, with gradual grading around the perimeter to 0.5m higher than the surrounding Tarmacadam,” he explained. “Our job was to reinstate the new pitch to the evel of the existing one.”  

The 150mm main drainage pipes were laid along the pitch perimeter with 80mm lateral land-drain pipes at 4m centres across the pitch. A computer-controlled irrigation system was installed, consisting of 16 pop-up sprinklers around the pitch perimeter and eight infield sprinklers.

The undersoil heating’s main pipework was laid on a gravel layer along the pitch perimeter, before 25mm lateral pipes were ploughed into the profile.

First opened in 1903, Hampden Park was at the time the largest stadium in the world, attracting an attendance of 149,415 to see Scotland play England in 1937. It hosted the European Cup Final in 1960.

 



SIS Pitches returned the pitch to the exact level of the pitch first built in 1990
 


PIC: ©flickr-daniel0685
Hampden Stadium played centre stage for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, hosting all athletics events
 
Chappelow Sports Turf

Going gets great at York

Groundsmanship and natural turf care can at times throw up unforeseen issues to sort out. This was the case at the award-winning York Racecourse, where rich sediment, silt and clay deposits left by the River Ouse had created a number of issues. To correct the problems, the racecourse’s grounds team, lead by Adrian Kay, oversaw a two-year programme of extensive resurfacing.

“We lie in the river’s floodplain and the conditions had allowed weed grasses to proliferate, along with a major build-up of thatch,” Kay said. “Weed grass is always prone to disease and creates a lot of organic matter, which can prevent water penetrating to the root zone. A 10ml layer of thatch is fine but the course had around 25-30ml, which was far too thick.”
Kay, who was crowned the 2014 IOG Groundsman of the Year, called in sports contractor Chappelow Sports Turf to conduct a programme of remedial work to rectify the problem, which included the reseeding of the course’s South Bend with a ryegrass mix. In October 2014, he called in Chappelow once again to conduct top draining of the home straight, which sand-slitted the surface down to the main drains, laid in 2007, and removed the silt and clay deposits to stimulate free draining.

“About 8,000sq m of deposits were removed in just three days,” says Kay. “I hope to recycle some of the material when we plant up shrub beds later in the year.

Chappelow Sports also recently completed Bury Football Club’s Gigg Lane stadium pitch renovation and a major recontouring of a sports field at Greetland Academy in Halifax.

 



Flooding had left sediment, silt and clay deposits on the course
 


The grounds team spent nearly two years correcting the issue
 
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Sports Management
2015 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Natural turf

Sports surfaces

Natural turf


Natural grass remains the first choice for a number of elite sports venues and facilities. We look at recent, high-profile natural turf installations from around the UK

Tom Walker, Leisure Media

O’BRIEN

Wasps’ new nest gets resurfaced

The new owner of Coventry’s Ricoh Arena – Wasps rugby club – has wasted no time in making its mark on its new home (see interview p. 34). The Aviva Premiership outfit has installed a new playing surface at the Ricoh – a stadium it shares with League One Coventry City Football Club.

O’Brien Contractors partnered with leading European sports pitch specialist GreenFields UK for the installation. The project involved site preparation works to remove the existing 8,000sq m playing surface before GreenFields UK installed the new natural XtraGrass turf, farmed in the Netherlands. Work started on 5 December 2014 and was completed ready for Coventry City’s home league game with Fleetwood Town on 20 December.

Wasps had initially announced its intentions to replace the current pitch during the summer to provide a playing surface suitable for the demands of both rugby and football matches. Following a consultation however, the rugby club decided to lay an interim pitch to ensure both clubs had the surface required to give them the best chance of success.

A spokesperson for GreenFields said: “The former pitch had been poorly maintained and the condition was such that we have provided a temporary replacement of the existing surface, using natural turf, farmed in the Netherlands. Works will commence in May 2015 to replace the entire natural grass pitch with XtraGrass and the deal incorporates a five year maintenance agreement to ensure the surface is kept in optimum condition.”

 



The works included removing the old pitch and replacing it with a new XtraGrass turf, farmed in Holland
 


The works included removing the old pitch and replacing it with a new XtraGrass turf, farmed in Holland
 
DESSO

Man City goes for Desso

Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) has opened the doors to its new City Football Academy – reported to have cost £200m (US$312m, €255m) – following a four-year project. The new facility in East Manchester – a stone’s throw from the club’s Etihad Stadium – forms a key part of plans to regenerate the former industrial wasteland. The two-year building phase was led by BAM Construction working to designs by Rafael Vinoly Architects.

After a successful experience using a Desso GrassMaster system at its main Etihad Stadium, the club chose to go with Desso as the surface at the academy too. Desso Sports installed 30,000sq m of its

reinforced natural grass, Desso Grass-Master and an additional 33,000sq m of its latest artificial turf technology – Desso iDNA X at the academy.

The strategy behind the partnership between MCFC and Desso Sports – which now includes both match and training pitches – is to enable young talent and the first team to perform on similar surfaces, regardless of weather conditions or the intensity of use.

Yves De Cocker, director, Desso GrassMaster, said: “The academy shares Desso’s desire – to provide high-level, consistent and durable playing fields catering for professional performance.”

Vincent Kompany, Manchester City’s captain, added: “Desso GrassMaster is becoming a premium standard in the sports industry. We, as players, are excited to play and train on such a high level surface.”

In addition to 17 pitches and three gyms, the City Football Academy boasts a 7,000-seat stadium for Elite Development squad teams, Manchester City Women’s FC and community use. MCFC will use the facility to train its current stars – as well as future prospects in the club’s youth teams – and has also worked to ensure parts of the facility will be available for use by the local community, particularly schoolchildren.

 



The City Football Academy boasts a total of 17 outdoor pitches across an 80-acre former brownfield site
 


PIC: ©shutterstock/Debu
The pitches at the academy match those used at the club’s Etihad Stadium
 
SIS pitches

New turf laid at Hampden after Glasgow 2014 repairs

The renowned ‘Hampden Roar’ was back in full voice in January, when the first competitive football game was held at Scotland’s national stadium since November 2013. The 14-month hiatus was brought on by Hampden Stadium playing centre stage for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The stadium hosted all of Glasgow 2014’s athletics events, for which a temporary 400m running track was installed.

The stadium has now been returned to its original configuration as a football stadium and Queen’s Park FC has returned as the venue’s primary tenant. As part of the works to turn the stadium back into a football arena, a new turf was installed by specialist sports contractor SIS Pitches.

Once the temporary structures of Glasgow 2014 had been removed, SIS came on site fighting seasonally challenging weather to begin a four-week project to reconstruct the pitch to its original level and contours, install new drainage, undersoil heating and a fully-automated irrigation system. The project involved removing sand, rootzone and gravel layers, undersoil heating, irrigation and drainage then installing new systems within a deeper profile, recycling materials if at all possible.

“The brief was to deliver a first-class playing surface in keeping with our status as Scotland’s national football stadium,” said Hampden Park managing director Peter Dallas. “The fixture on 3 January was the first opportunity the fans had to see the new pitch first hand.

“Under the annual maintenance programme, SIS will continue to monitor the pitch to ensure it continues to be presented in the best possible condition.”

SIS Pitches contracts director Phil Blackwell said the environment at Hampden created some unique challenges for the re-installing of the grass pitch. “In the late 1990s the pitch was built on a plateau, with gradual grading around the perimeter to 0.5m higher than the surrounding Tarmacadam,” he explained. “Our job was to reinstate the new pitch to the evel of the existing one.”  

The 150mm main drainage pipes were laid along the pitch perimeter with 80mm lateral land-drain pipes at 4m centres across the pitch. A computer-controlled irrigation system was installed, consisting of 16 pop-up sprinklers around the pitch perimeter and eight infield sprinklers.

The undersoil heating’s main pipework was laid on a gravel layer along the pitch perimeter, before 25mm lateral pipes were ploughed into the profile.

First opened in 1903, Hampden Park was at the time the largest stadium in the world, attracting an attendance of 149,415 to see Scotland play England in 1937. It hosted the European Cup Final in 1960.

 



SIS Pitches returned the pitch to the exact level of the pitch first built in 1990
 


PIC: ©flickr-daniel0685
Hampden Stadium played centre stage for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, hosting all athletics events
 
Chappelow Sports Turf

Going gets great at York

Groundsmanship and natural turf care can at times throw up unforeseen issues to sort out. This was the case at the award-winning York Racecourse, where rich sediment, silt and clay deposits left by the River Ouse had created a number of issues. To correct the problems, the racecourse’s grounds team, lead by Adrian Kay, oversaw a two-year programme of extensive resurfacing.

“We lie in the river’s floodplain and the conditions had allowed weed grasses to proliferate, along with a major build-up of thatch,” Kay said. “Weed grass is always prone to disease and creates a lot of organic matter, which can prevent water penetrating to the root zone. A 10ml layer of thatch is fine but the course had around 25-30ml, which was far too thick.”
Kay, who was crowned the 2014 IOG Groundsman of the Year, called in sports contractor Chappelow Sports Turf to conduct a programme of remedial work to rectify the problem, which included the reseeding of the course’s South Bend with a ryegrass mix. In October 2014, he called in Chappelow once again to conduct top draining of the home straight, which sand-slitted the surface down to the main drains, laid in 2007, and removed the silt and clay deposits to stimulate free draining.

“About 8,000sq m of deposits were removed in just three days,” says Kay. “I hope to recycle some of the material when we plant up shrub beds later in the year.

Chappelow Sports also recently completed Bury Football Club’s Gigg Lane stadium pitch renovation and a major recontouring of a sports field at Greetland Academy in Halifax.

 



Flooding had left sediment, silt and clay deposits on the course
 


The grounds team spent nearly two years correcting the issue
 

Originally published in Sports Management 2015 issue 1

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