Sports Facilities

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Fast Turnaround for International-Use Field

3 Jun, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Preparing a Sports Field for World Competition Means Getting Things Done in 48 Hours – or Less

Plenty of event owners need a field that is ready in a hurry after a rain – but what about one that is ready for international competition, and after the current field doesn’t come up to scratch?

That was the issue facing officials at Singapore Sports Hub ahead of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA). According to an article by Channel News Asia, the current field at Singapore’s National Stadium had drawn complaints from big-name teams such as Juventus and the Maori All Blacks, among others. In order to get the facility ready for international competition, a new surface was needed.

The Sports Hub named Australia-based company HG Sports Turf as the official supplier of the Eclipse Stabilized Turf for the National Stadium along with a three-year maintenance contract, and asked for a new surface that would stand up to the amount and level of play it was about to receive.

The technology combines natural grass with artificial grass but is recognized by FIFA as a 100 percent natural turf, Sports Hub said.

The turnaround time is short and the job is huge. And by the numbers, it is even more intimidating. The installation includes 8,000 square meters (more than 86,100 square feet) – or 800 rolls of turf, each weighing more than 1,600 pounds. These are being transported from the nursery to the stadium with 40 flat-bed trucks and installed within 48 hours, and the field must be ready for use immediately after installation. The turf has an expected lifespan of 15 years in Singapore.

“The new game field is being installed in a 48-hour window ahead of the SEA GAmes,” notes The Motz Corporation's Adam Coleman. “The installation starts right after the opening ceremonies are complete.”

To aid in getting the turf ready, Sports Hub has put in place grow lights, additional fans for air movement and made improvements to the field’s irrigation system. It has also installed moisture and temperature probes to manage the climate in the stadium. If there is a non-sporting event in the stadium, protective covering will be laid over the pitch as well.

“This system has performed well in US facilities like GreatAmerican Ball Pa where headliner concerts such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé in occurring on the field in the middle of the baseball season are handled with ease,” says Coleman. “The stabilized turf wears better and if areas do require replacement, a simple patch can be made with turf grown at a local nursery.”

Last October, according to the ChannelNews article, Sport Singapore took issue with the "sub-standard readiness" of the pitch which appeared sandy and patchy during a Brazil-Japan friendly, and urged the Sports Hub management to "do everything necessary" to ensure the pitch meets ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) requirements.

The newly renovated facility will include a staff of maintenance officials who will watch it carefully for signs of wear and damage, according to the article.

“We will continue to closely monitor and test the quality of the pitch before, during and after each event to ensure it is performing to our expectations of delivering a world-class facility,” noted Singapore Sports Hub chief executive Philippe Collin-Delavaud.

The success of this type of field could be a key part in helping countries win even more bids to host international competitions and on a more local level, in assisting sports facility builders with winning their own bids.

"The advantage would not be unique to the U.S. as Eclipse has been used in this capacity worldwide," said Coleman. "It would be more unique to a contractor’s ability to win the contract for a high-level stadium. In the Australian Olympics, for example, there were so many events going on in the main stadium for the opening ceremony that the field had to be installed after the ceremony was over, yet still perform at the highest level for the games. The same is true for the SEA Games. The other unique benefit of Eclipse is the ability for it to be installed, for instance, over synthetic turf and then removed. The difference compared to thick-cut sod is that Eclipse is produced in a synthetic turf mat. This proprietary method assures absolute consistency in thickness and planarity. Because the growing medium is normally sand, drainage issues and a muddy surface are virtually eliminated, even when it rains."

Because after all, no matter how famous the players are, they can't compete with Mother Nature.

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