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Perfect Pitch

Artificial sports surfaces are becoming increasingly popular as facilities and clubs seek to ensure maximum usage from their pitches. We look at some of the most recent installations across different types of venues

Published in Sports Management 2015 issue 3
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue

Taking it indoors

Project: New 3G sports centre
Client: Sportscotland
Design and build: Collinson
3G surface: Allsports Construction and Maintenance

The opening of a new a £1.75m indoor 3G pitch at Inverclyde Sports Centre in Largs, Scotland, is set to transform community sport in the area. Designed and built by Collinson, the 60x40m hall features a playing surface supplied and installed by Allsports Construction & Maintenance. The pitch meets IRB and FIFA standards and can be configured as a single seven-a-side pitch or two five-a-side pitches using a retractable dividing curtain. Facilities include a spectator area and changing rooms.

John Kent, sportscotland’s principal of the National Sports Training Centre at Inverclyde, said: “It has always been a vision of Inverclyde to have this indoor facility and this development will now enhance opportunities for sports people from all over Scotland, as well as the local community, to come and enjoy sport in an indoor environment.

Called Weir 3G Indoor Hall, the facility has been named after local Euromillions-winning couple Christine and Colin Weir, who donated £1.5m towards the building. The Weirs, who won a total of £161m in 2011, have previously funded tennis courts and a five-a-side pitch in the area.

The indoor 3G pitch at Largs
The indoor 3G pitch at Largs

New surface for classic venue

Project: Three new cricket pitches at the home of cricket
Client: Lord’s Cricket Ground
By: Notts Sport

Synthetic cricket surfacing systems supplier Notts Sport has installed a new pitch and refurbished two existing ones at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.

The work included the replacement of the match pitch on the Nursery Ground, with the former synthetic system excavated, removed and replaced by a NottsBase D System NG12 over an Envelope Base. The aim was to provide a playing surface providing performance as close as possible to that of a covered first-class cricket square.

The refurbishment of the two practice lanes, also on the Nursery Ground, included extending the length of the areas, rebuilding the base aggregate, adding new NottsBase performance pads and laying new NottsGrass NG7 carpets.

The work was carried out in just four days and the new match pitch will be used by youth teams, while the practice facilities will be used by Middlesex and national teams before and after a match at Lord’s main pitch.

Alex Bennett, cricket sales director for Notts Sport Cricket South, said: “The ultra-low maintenance and performance of the NottsBase D System and the durability of the tufted NottsGrass surface provided the perfect solution.”

The project has breathed new life to the Nursery Ground pitch adjacent to the main ground
The project has breathed new life to the Nursery Ground pitch adjacent to the main ground

New surface for classic venue

Project: Removing and reusing 3G pitch
Client: Chelsea FC
By: Sports Maintenance Services

Chelsea Football Club will become one of the first clubs in the English Premier League (EPL) to install a 4G pitch for its young academy players. The 3G pitch being replaced at the club’s youth training facility in Cobham, Surrey, won’t go to waste either, thanks to Sports Maintenance Services (SMS). A sports centre in Rotherham and a school in Hertfordshire will benefit from the EPL champions’ decision to upgrade – with the old pitch being reused at the two locations.

SMS director Tim Gallagher explained: “We’ve taken care of the Chelsea Academy surface for the past seven years and kept it in excellent condition. So when the club announced its plans to upgrade to a new infill-free 4G pitch, we wanted to avoid a negative waste story and ensure a positive environmentally-friendly outcome for all concerned.

“Using a Turf Muncher machine we lifted the old carpet and extracted the infill on-site, both of which were then independently tested. The pitch was found to be fit for reuse, so a sports centre in Rotherham has taken 2,500sq m of it to create four five-a-side pitches and a school in Herts will reuse a further 5,000sq m.”

The Chelsea FC pitch being removed using SMS’ Turf Muncher machine
The Chelsea FC pitch being removed using SMS’ Turf Muncher machine

Community matters

Project: Replacing main grass pitch with 3G surface
Client: Worthing FC
By: O’Brien

Pitch construction company O’Brien Sports has been awarded a contract to replace the main playing surface at Worthing FC’s Woodside Road stadium with a 3G pitch.
O’Brien will install a new 60mm ACT Global surface at the stadium, which the club plans to use as a springboard to increase its profile and provide a hub for the community. The project will see the conversion of the natural turf pitch into an all-weather surface that meets the requirements of the FIFA quality concept. The works will also include drainage kerbs and a dynamic aggregate sub base.

The club, which currently plays in the Isthmian League Division One, expects 1,500 more players to use the new facilities each week – ranging from toddler groups to first team training sessions. O’Brien Sports expects the new surface to generate around £200,000 of revenue each year for the club, based on 50 hours of use per week.

Worthing is looking to use the new 3G pitch to create a community hub at Woodside Road
Worthing is looking to use the new 3G pitch to create a community hub at Woodside Road

Academic excellence

Project: Replacing a hockey and football pitch
Client: Aston University
By: McArdle Sport-Tec and TigerTurf

After 10 years of loyal service, a well-used synthetic pitch at Aston University had come to the end of its natural life and began experiencing a number of performance issues owing to its age.

The pitch was condemned and could no longer stage hockey games, but its continued importance for the university’s staff and students, as well as for the local community, meant that a swift replacement would be necessary.

Having successfully applied for funding from Sport England’s Community Sports Improvement Fund – thanks in part to the facility’s extensive community use – the university went out to tender for a new surface which could accommodate hockey and football at both recreational and competitive level.

With each sport placing very different demands on a surface, the university worked with a consultant who specified TigerTurf’s Evo Pro as the perfect solution to bridge this gap, while offering a long-lasting pitch able to cope with a high level of use. Specialist contractor McArdle Sport-Tec was selected to install the new surface, and the 97.4m x 62m full-size pitch was successfully completed ahead of schedule in just ten weeks.

Clive Eals, project manager for Estates and Capital Development at Aston University, said: “We were keen to use a product which was manufactured in the UK, as this meant we wouldn’t have to pay for the turf to be shipped from the other side of the world and also that we could rely on delivery times.

“Whereas the old pitch had a longer length and rubber crumb infill which wasn’t ideal for playing hockey, the new surface is made with a sand infill – although you wouldn’t know it as you have to go looking for the sand.

It’s a beautiful, even surface and it just makes you to want to get out there and play sport, which is what we want for our students and the community.”

Paul Langford, managing director at TigerTurf UK added: “It can be tricky for those investing in new facilities to cater for a number of different sports, especially when they will be used by such a large and varied number of people, as was the case at Aston University.

“We’re committed to developing long lasting products to suit the needs of those in every field of sport and have experts on-hand for each sector.”

The new pitch is able to cater for hockey and football at both recreational and club level
The new pitch is able to cater for hockey and football at both recreational and club level
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