Multifunctionality and daily pitch maintenance at St George’s Park
St George’s Park was selected as the perfect host for the 2019 ESSMA Pitch Management Workshop because of their excellent reputation in the field of pitch management. As well as their remarkable business plan which sees the amenities being shared between professional sports teams and commercial guests, thereby ensuring year-round use of the facilities. Scott Brooks - Head Groundsman of St George’s Park - explained how they manage to balance the commercial use and use by professional sports teams while guaranteeing a high quality for all pitches on the premises.
St George’s Park is the English FA’s official national football centre. The 330-acre site in Burton upon Trent was opened officially in October 2012 as part of the FA’s mission to rebuild itself into a world-class organisation with best in class, innovative and inspirational venues. It includes:
- 15 pitches
- 10 natural grass (including one exact replica of the pitch at Wembley Stadium)
- 4 synthetic pitches
- 1 indoor futsal hall
- Sports science facility
- Hydrotherapy room
- Physiotherapy room
- Video analysis amenities
- Educational and coaching suites
- A 228-bedroom Hilton Hotel & Spa
St George’s Park has hosted over 350 training and preparation sessions for all 29 England national football teams since its opening in 2012. In addition, it has hosted pre-season training sessions for professional football & rugby clubs, training sessions for visiting international teams and local team Burton Albion as well as training sessions for football coaches, community football, educational workshops, conferences, team-building sessions and thousands of guests in their Hilton Hotel each year.
This extraordinary multifunctional use of St George’s Park makes it a true year-round venue with a hotel occupancy rate that reached 76% in the 2017/18 season and a pitch occupancy rate that reached 81%.
Daily pitch management
To guarantee high quality pitches, the grounds team at St George’s Park manages all pitches on a daily basis even if it is just as simple as a walk-over to make sure that there are no diseases manifesting. The team consisting of 10 fixed employees and 5 estate workers maintains the pitches 365 days per year and are even looking into building amenities for staff to reside on the premises.
In terms of cutting, the team cuts the pitch about once every two days as they believe that cutting too often will put the grass under too much stress and thus lower the quality of the pitch. They also make sure not too overwater the pitch and typically put in 4-5mm per day, which is equal to the evapotranspirationrates at St George’s Park in the summer.
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