Sports Hub Pte Ltd (SHPL) is reported to be resurfacing the hybrid grass pitch in the new Singapore National Stadium permanently with artificial turf – the surface it had originally considered but opted against.
This unexpected U-turn came after months of controversy and spending S$1.5 million on new lighting equipment to try to improve the quality of the National Stadium pitch.
The S$833,000 Desso GrassMaster pitch which is currently a hybrid of synthetic and natural grass pitch had a series of complains over the quality of the pitch.
The pitch raised some eyebrows earlier in August, when the grass was clearly not growing well and players were concerned that the excessive amount of sand would get into the eyes of players and potentially cause injuries.
In response to the complains, Mr Greg Gillin, Senior Director of Stadia at the Singapore Sports Hub had earlier pinned the issue down to the “micro-climate within the stadium” as a factor, where “some part of the pitch that gets eight or nine hours, and some parts that only get an hour’s worth of sunlight.”
In October, the New Zealand Rugby Union cancelled the match between the rugby teams, Maori All Blacks and Asia-Pacific Barbarians due to the poor quality of the pitch that has drawn numerous complaints from sporting teams.
While ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup 2014 went ahead despite early possibility of scraping the event at the national stadium due to the condition of the grass pitch. Sandy patches were still visible on the field when Thailand defeated Singapore 2-1 in Sunday’s opening match.
Minster for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong came out in August to defend the hybrid grass pitch saying that the grass just needs time to grow and will be ready for the SEA Games next year but it is unknown how long before it will truly be ready.
Local news outlet, Today reports that the cost of the resurfacing will be borne by SHPL. The price of the resurfacing is yet to be determined.
For promoters of sports events who insist on natural grass, it is said that the grass can be temporarily installed over the artificial pitch in less than 72 hours.
In response to queries to Today, SHPL chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik said: “We are exploring several pitch solutions that can cater to our multipurpose sports and entertainment calendar at the National Stadium. More details will be released at a later date.”
The consortium already has a nursery that is used to grow grass to be installed outside the football pitch for cricket matches that require a bigger turf. In future, this will also be used to grow grass for the main pitch.
When the hybrid grass pitch was first announced to be used in the National Stadium in May earlier this year, SHPL said that its durability and versatility means long-term cost savings.