The challenges and possibilities of the multifunctional Amsterdam ArenA pitch
Paal Baas and Arjan Knottnerus shared insights related to multifunctionality at the Amsterdam ArenA, their hybrid Lay&Play solution, challenges and their protocol when hosting events on the pitch.
“With one pitch for one football season and to ensure a high-quality pitch, the Amsterdam ArenA host two concerts with an average coverage time of 48 hours.”
Hybrid Lay&Play solution
Amsterdam ArenA opted for the Hybrid Lay&Play solution of GrassMaster Solutions. In total there are around 90 matches and training sessions on the pitch resulting in 240 pitch hours for mid July until mid May. The Amsterdam ArenA grounds team spends around 160 hours a week preparing the pitch and consists of three full-time employees and other part-time employees (mainly working on matchdays). At the end of the season (mid May), the Amsterdam ArenA grounds team will cover the pitch and prepare it for the concert season before putting a new pitch in place for the football season
“In the first 10 years, the pitch had to be replaced 6 times a year (60 pitches in total).”
Each year at least two pitches are prepared at a nursery, with a growing period of 12 to 16 weeks. The second pitch is a “backup” and can be used until mid November. The sods are 2,40 x 12 meter meaning that the pitch has 50% less seams. Moreover, they use their pitch dashboard to monitor the pitches.
Paul Baas and the grounds team have set up a protocol for hosting concerts on the pitch and to prepare the grass for “easy mode” (meaning harder grass which creates better post-coverage resulsts). The main focus of the protocol is a pre, during and post schedule with the maintenance and usage per day e.g. with training sessions, pitch coverage, and event preparation. After the event, there will be a discussion moment during which they decide if the quality of pitch is still good enough or if they have to returf (full pitch or sections).
The hybrid Lay&Play solution offers the opportunity to only returf sections of the pitch. For example during the U2 concert, the pitch had to be covered for longer than 48 hours. Afterwards part of the pitch had to be returfed instead of the whole pitch, resulting in a lower cost.
Ensuring pitch quality
The main challenges of ensuring a high-quality pitch are the lack of sunlight and hosting events during the football season.
The grounds team have created a sunlight schedule (per day/month) for an optimal grass growing time and to learn when specific parts of the pitch need additional light. In addition to the natural sunlight, several SGL units aid the grass growth. Furthermore, Amsterdam ArenA are working on a project to create a mobile LED lighting unit to cover the whole pitch and ensure that each part of the pitch gets exactly the right amount of light.
Bi-weekly, they measure the hardness, moisture, clegg, grip, ball roll, ball stout, etc. The next step is, together with the AFC Ajax grounds team, to analyse the data and try to match the pitch conditions of both the Amsterdam ArenA and ‘De Toekomst’ training grounds.
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