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Laying it down

A look at some of the latest synthetic pitch installation projects from across the UK.

Published in Sports Management 2013 issue 4
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue
Artificial turf / © shutterstock.com/
Artificial turf/ © shutterstock.com/

Case Study - FieldTurf

Project: Professional standard rugby pitch
Location: Cardiff Blues rugby club, Wales

Cardiff Blues, one of the four professional rugby union teams in Wales, decided to install an artificial grass playing surface at its Cardiff Arms Park home ground. The club, winner of the Anglo-Welsh cup in 2009 and of the European Challenge in 2010, chose FieldTurf as its supplier for the new pitch.

With the FieldTurf Optimum RGF 65 system, Blues players will benefit from a safe and high-performance surface, tested according to the stringent criteria set by the International Rugby Board (IRB). The new £0.5m surface will enable the Blues to play in stable conditions throughout the year. The FieldTurf Optimum system features a soft and strong fiber with resistance and durability, giving the Blues a long term solution for their players and supporters. The pitch was installed in partnership with Tony Patterson Sportsground.

Cardiff Blues CEO Richard Holland said: “The new surface allows games to go ahead in any weather and hopefully enable us to play a more expansive and attractive game for supporters to enjoy. There’s also the wider community to consider and our aim is to make the pitch available for teams in the Blues region to play and train on. We’ve put a great amount of effort into researching the different surfaces available and I’ve no doubt that the new artificial pitch of FieldTurf will be a hit with players and supporters alike.”

Ralph Jorissen, Vice President at FieldTurf EMEA said: “We’re very proud of being the supplier of the Blues’ next pitch. They are a big rugby team always looking for performance and we are going to help them achieve their objectives with our sports solutions.”

FieldTurf has so far completed more than 7,000 installations worldwide – which include a number of leading football clubs, such as FC Barcelona, Ajax Amsterdam, Paris Saint Germain and Borussia Dortmund.

The durability of the artificial surface means the new pitch can be made available to local community clubs
The durability of the artificial surface means the new pitch can be made available to local community clubs
The durability of the artificial surface means the new pitch can be made available to local community clubs
The durability of the artificial surface means the new pitch can be made available to local community clubs

Case Study - O’Brien Contractors

Project: New hockey pitch
Location: Oswestry School, Shropshire

O’Brien Contractors installed a new hockey pitch for the Oswestry School in Shropshire earlier this year. The 15-week, £430,000 project included the construction of a 6,300sq m sand-dressed synthetic grass hockey pitch and included earth modelling, fencing and floodlighting.

The pitch was built predominantly for hockey and was installed upon an in-situ rubber shock pad on an engineered base and involved the construction of a spectator area, drainage, sub base, fencing and flood lighting. Additional works included access roads and a car parking facility with bollard lighting. The pitch will be used by the school and the local community for hockey and football.

Founded in 1407, Oswestry School is one of the oldest non-denominational schools in England and is an independent, co-educational day and boarding school for pupils between the ages of four and 18.
Phil Bowd, bursar at Oswestry School, said: “The end result is spectacular and we’re very pleased with the outcome.”

According to general manager Steve Hillman, one of the biggest challenges the O’Brien team met with was to make sure the works didn’t disrupt the school and that the construction caused no adverse effects on a live site.

O’Brien worked with Andrew Legg – a former consultant at Strategic Leisure – on the project. The flood lighting was supplied by Christy Lighting while Lee Brothers were contracted to provide the fencing.

Andrew Legg said: “O’Brien performed to schedule, programme and budget and utilised competent sub contractors and suppliers.”

The £430,000 project will help the school improve its sports programmes
The £430,000 project will help the school improve its sports programmes
The £430,000 project will help the school improve its sports programmes
The £430,000 project will help the school improve its sports programmes

Case Study - TigerTurf

Project: Full-size, professional football pitch
Location: Hamilton Academicals Football Club

When Scottish football club Hamilton Academical FC experienced a series of winter fixture postponements due to adverse weather conditions, the Scottish Championship outfit decided to explore the possibility of installing a synthetic playing surface. The north facing pitch at the club’s New Douglas Park stadium had suffered from prolonged exposure to Scottish winter weather, which, when coupled with a demanding fixture schedule, caused rapid deterioration of the natural playing surface. The wear had a detrimental effect on both the performance and aesthetics of the pitch, which affected the performance of the first team as well as prevented the club from making the pitch available for community use.

Following a tender process under an FF/FA/RFU framework agreement, turf manufacturer TigerTurf UK collaborated with Chieftain Contractors to manufacture and install a high performance football pitch at New Douglas Park. The system chosen for the installation was TigerTurf’s Total Turf 60XQ, which is a leading 3G surface consisting of two unique profiled fibres, which is part-filled with sand and rubber infill.

The individual components of the system combine to provide split resistance along with improved performance, durability and visual characteristics. In addition, with the venue also playing host to elite level rugby, the field had to be fitted with a 23/130 shock pad, which gives the critical fall height protections needed to maintain the required safety standards. Faced with a very short lead time, TigerTurf produced the pitch in three weeks, during which Chieftain prepared the base works for the turf to be installed.

From tender to the completion of the installation, the project took just five weeks. On completion of the £400,000 installation, Shaun Fagan, commercial manager at Hamilton Academicals, said: “Although we had very particular requirements, we were able to interpret the brief we supplied and exceed our requirements with the delivery of the synthetic turf system.

“The product itself, Total Turf 60XQ, alongside the additional bespoke anti-flood measures will ensure that we will be able to use our facilities all year round, giving us the potential to increase revenue and have much happier fans and a better training/playing ground for our players.”

The new pitch will allow games to be played in all weather conditions
The new pitch will allow games to be played in all weather conditions

Case Study - Thornton Sports

Project: Full-size sports pitch
Location: Bishop Rawstorne school, Lancashire

Works have recently been completed to provide Bishop Rawstorne C of E Academy in Croston, Lancashire with a brand-new 3G sports pitch. The school initially approached Thornton Sports for assistance back in 2012. Following a formal tender process and successful planning approval, Bishop Rawstorne elected to proceed with Thornton Sports to provide the 6,235sq m pitch. The surface chosen was Thornton Sports’ UK manufactured SoccerTurf 40M 3G sand/rubber filled synthetic grass. This surface meets the IATS standard and hence is ideal for football, whilst also being FIH-approved for hockey use.

The size of the pitch was also increased to provide a new facility approximately 1,000sq m larger than the school’s old facility. The full-size pitch was then enclosed with new perimeter fencing and floodlighting and completed with the installation of sports equipment and construction of a new access path. The sports equipment was supplied and installed by GTC Sports.

Work took 12 weeks to complete and was undertaken within a ‘live’ school environment, hence it was important to ensure efficient and safe site access. A traffic management plan was agreed with the school to identify suitable access routes and delivery times. Risk assessments were also in place to prevent unauthorised site access and ensure access was conducted in a safe manner.

Paul Cowley, headteacher of the school, said: “Once work began we weren’t required to do or manage any aspect unless we wanted to. The build went ahead smoothly, without fuss and was on time.”

The school will use the pitch for football and hockey
The school will use the pitch for football and hockey

Case Study - SIS

Project: Full-size rugby pitch
Location: Coram’s Fields park, London

A prime London community sporting hub has chosen the latest 3G pitch technology as part of legacy plans ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2015. Tucked away in the heart of the city near Russell Square, the seven-acre Coram Fields park was awarded protected status under the Queen Elizabeth II Fields in Trust 2012 scheme.

Operated by a charity, the site caters for children and young people and offers a range of sports, particularly football and rugby but also tennis, cricket, basketball and netball. Facilities also include youth and children’s centres,
a community nursery, a farm and a café.

It is the sports programme however, which is set to expand dramatically, now that the site’s new 3G synthetic surface, installed by manufacturing and installation specialists SIS Pitches, allows Coram’s Fields to cater for sports programming seven days a week. The contract was awarded by sports pitch consultancy MSC for what is a highly strategic site – and one of very few city centre synthetic pitches capable of sustaining intensive community and club use.

“This is our first installation contract in central London and is a particularly prestigious tender to win,” said SIS Pitches director Phil Blackwell. “To my knowledge, Coram’s Fields is the only full-size facility of its kind in the area.”

The Supreme 60 sand and rubber crumb infill surface can be marked out for several modes of football including five- and seven-a-side and rugby and replaces the existing synthetic pitch that was no longer fit for purpose.

The surface is manufactured from the same premier quality yarn SIS used for the Rugger 65 pitch it supplied for Premiership rugby champions Saracens in early 2013. The contract included improvements to the perimeter fencing and SIS Pitches will maintain the pitch for 12 months, including a deep brush every three months.

The pitch markings will allow a number of different sports
The pitch markings will allow a number of different sports
The pitch markings will allow a number of different sports
The pitch markings will allow a number of different sports
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