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Secrets of £1m pitch revealed

Headingley Stadium’s head groundsman, Jason Booth, revealed the secrets behind the venue’s highly successful £1m (US$1.6m) pitch rebuild to around 100 leading groundsmen from football, rugby, schools and local authorities, at the inaugural Pitch Focus event, organised by Everris, at the ground in July.

Although the pitch reconstruction project was eight years in the making, it really came to fruition in the three months beginning October 2012, as a firm and fast pitch was required for the Leeds Rhinos Boxing Day match.

“Having the right partners and the close working practice of all involved has been crucial to the fast turnaround, and the subsequent management that ensured the surface quickly established and was sufficiently strong to withstand the rigours of the rugby league season,” he said. However, Booth acknowledged that the agreement to play Leeds Carnegie rugby union at an alternative ground for the season had also been an important factor.

The rebuild included vast earthworks to in order to excavate and move out, followed by 4,000 tonnes of new material brought-in to construct the new base. There was 26 miles of electric cabling for undersoil heating, pipework for a comprehensive new irrigation system and the access ways to move lighting rigs on and off the pitch.

One of the important lessons from the process was the appointment of an independent construction surveyor to oversee the work and constantly review the project’s progress. Introducing techniques more commonly employed in the industrial construction industry, Booth believes they now have a pitch base that will perform for many years with an on-going annual renovation process.

Pitch Focus delegates had the opportunity to discuss the Leeds’ experience with companies leading the project, as well as some of the latest innovations and developments in sports turf management and maintenance.

“The pitch is the foundation for everything commercial that goes on at the club,” added Headingley Stadium’s commercial manager, Rob Oate. Success on the pitch is integral to success off it, so it is essential we give the players the surface on which they can perform. We have invested £1m on the pitch so far, but we recognise that there is more to do to keep it in the best possible condition. We were pleased to host Pitch Focus as an acknowledgement to all the businesses that have contributed to the success of the project, and to its ongoing future performance at the highest level.”


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