Rolling out the 'green carpet' for SEA Games

Rolling out the 'green carpet' for SEA Games
National football coach Bernd Stange (in white) and player Irfan Fandi (right) testing out the new Eclipse Stabilised Turf at the National Stadium on 19 May 2015. The new surface will be laid on top of its Desso GrassMaster predecessor after the SEA Games’ opening ceremony on June 5.

The Singapore Sports Hub yesterday lifted the covers off its new National Stadium field to be used for next month's SEA Games, effectively turfing out its previous $800,000 surface that drew flak and ridicule during its first year of operation.

The new Eclipse Stabilised Turf (EST) - commonly known as a "lay and play" surface - combines natural bermuda warm- weather grass with artificial grass in a roll of turf.

It involves growing the natural field at an undisclosed off-site nursery - run by home-grown firm TEHC International - then cutting it up and transporting the grass in rolls to the stadium.

The EST has been used at top regional venues such as Eden Park in Auckland, the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne and the Canberra Stadium.

It is understood to cost slightly less than the original Desso GrassMaster surface, whose patchy surface and sandy conditions came under fire last year from the likes of Brazil football coach Dunga and the New Zealand Rugby Union.

After the SEA Games' opening ceremony on June 5, the EST will be laid on top of its Desso predecessor, which will no longer be used. Officials said the process of transporting 800 rolls of turf from the nursery to setting up an event-ready field will take 48 hours. Melbourne-based HG Sports Turf is providing the system as part of a three-year deal with the Sports Hub.

Sports Hub chief executive Philippe Collin-Delavaud admitted it took "too much time" to solve its pitch woes, but is "100 per cent" confident that the new field can withstand its heavy sports and entertainment programming.

He added: "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."

A new irrigation system has also been installed, along with 18 probes that will monitor soil moisture and temperature.

The Sports Hub has also bought more lighting machines to stimulate the growth of grass, adding to its previous $1.5 million purchase of the equipment from the Netherlands.

The new field will be covered for short-term entertainment events, but can also be rolled up and stored if necessary. Patches that require regeneration will be sent back to the nursery, where backup rolls are kept.

HG Sports Turf's managing director Hamish Sutherland said: "What determines whether the turf is replaced in the future is the number of events.

"At venues in Australia, it has lasted for 15 years - it's a durable and proven system that will do the job in Singapore."

This article was first published on May 20, 2015.
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