Meet the expert: Majella Smyth, Head Groundsman at Aviva Stadium

ESSMA interviewed Majella Smyth, who has been Head Groundsman at the AVIVA Stadium in Dublin for several years. He will participate in the ESSMA Summit 2018.

 The AVIVA Stadium hosts about 24 international matches per year and between 15 to 20 times for other purposes.

How many events are organised here at Aviva Stadium?

We have an average of 24 international games per year. On top of that the pitch is used between 15 and 20 times for extra’s like corporate gigs.

Do you also organise concerts here?

Yes, we have a concert coming up in June and we do a lot of preparation to this one in particular. The concert takes place shortly after the last soccer match of the season, which means the organization from the concert will immediately build the stage. Unfortunately for us, we don’t get to clear the vegetation over the pitch so that will be something we will have to look at. 

How do you prepare big events and what do you do after them at AVIVA Stadium?

First of all, we seal the pitch place. When that’s done everyone knows how the system works and what to do. After that we repair it and get it back together for the next event. A good example is the last two weeks we just had. There were two football and two rugby games and several training sessions in just a few days.

This is a hybrid pitch. What is the advantage of playing on a hybrid pitch?

The case above is a perfect example. The structure of the pitch -including the scrums- holds it very well. This season we’ve had about 190 scrums on the pitch. We keep track of the statistics and keep an eye out between every match. 

In just two weeks time we’ve had two football and two rugby games, plus training sessions. A challenge for the pitch!

When you are organising the pitch, what do you do exactly?

We try to clear the pitch during the preparation for the concert. That means that when the concert is finished, we go back and get the levels back together. We seed and cover it, hoping the pitch will produce itself again. This year, with the concert being so close to the last match of the season, we will not get a chance to do this.

Posted on 29/11/2017 in: