In this Q&A series, Proleisure Directors, and guests, offer insight into the latest trends and issues affecting the development of world-class sports infrastructure.
This week Director Nick Smith talks about Pro Pitch, the turf management system used by FIFA, Wembley and Manchester’s Etihad Stadium to keep their pitches in perfect condition.
What is Pro Pitch?
Nick: It’s a system we created, comprising unique testing and reporting, to provide venues with the detailed performance data they need to keep their natural sports turf in peak condition.
The ongoing quality of pitches hasn’t always been the main consideration in the design of stadia. Many major sports grounds have less than ideal turf growing conditions – inadequate light, poor natural air circulation. These factors, plus the now common requirement that stadia be multi-use, called for a solution for sustaining high quality natural sports turf.
How exactly does the system work?
Nick: We use a unique testing formula that includes 18 tests across three categories. The results allow us to create a detailed report, benchmarking tools, and a condition and performance rating for a grass playing surface. Using this information grounds teams set quality targets, and timescales and methods for achieving them. Maintenance plans are put in place. Staff receive training. The whole environment is geared up for improved pitch quality and enhanced performance. The result is natural turf that wins awards and matches!
How important is the state of a pitch in competition?
Nick: For players, a high quality, consistent pitch improves performance and prevents injury.
The fact that Pro Pitch gives executives and managers a better understanding of pitch performance, and tangible measurement and maintenance tools, is important too. The onus is on them to make the most of facilities commercially. A consistently perfect pitch, including at multi-use venues, can maximise revenues and commercial opportunities, and increase brand value.
Competitions, leagues and associations can also protect their revenues by investing in a pitch that ensures all matches are delivered. Greater quality pitches, and therefore matches, improve fan experience too.
The Pro Pitch system has been used by some big name organisations.
Nick: We’ve worked with FIFA on numerous projects in Asia and the Middle East. We’ve done a lot of testing around pitch construction, maintenance and quality assurance, and these pitches have received high praise from FIFA and referees.
We work with Wembley Stadium on an ongoing basis to ensure optimum pitch conditions for major events in a range of sports.
We were able to assist Etihad Stadium in Manchester in developing the leading pitch in the Premier League. We continue to work closely with grounds staff to assess and maintain it.
We’re also looking forward to bringing our expertise to City’s Football Club in Melbourne.