Victoria’s award winning AAMI Park is set to undergo a full turf replacement before the commencement of the AFC Asian Cup in early 2015. turfmate caught up with the Sportsfields Coordinator, Justin Lang, to discuss the progression of the project, which began after the Victory game last Monday.
The long-awaited completion of AAMI Park came in 2010, with hundreds of thousands of spectators flocking to the ground every year to witness A-League soccer and rugby matches.
Since its debut, AAMI Park has won several awards, including ‘most iconic and culturally significant stadium’ and Professional Footballers Australia’s ‘Pitch of the Season’ for the past two years.
In January of next year, AAMI Park is to host the AFC Asian Cup, with an estimated television audience of some 800 million people.
Anticipating the event, Justin Lang told turfmate that there’s “no room for error” going into a big tournament like this one, and expects that the re-turfing will make significant improvements in the ease of maintenance on the ground.
The project is said to be due for completion by this coming Thursday.The re-turf of AAMI Park was initially planned for seven years after the opening rather than five. However, hosting such a prestigious event as the Asian Cup, the project was brought forward and the process began with the removal of the ground’s sprinklers after Monday night’s clash between Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix.
Lang reports that “the project’s been all on schedule and everyone is pretty happy with it.”
New StaLok Instant Play turf will be installed in the stadium by Evergreen and the ground will be virtually ready to play on the next day, with goals and lines being set up on Sunday.
“Turf laying is not a science,” says Lang, “if you’ve got a low patch you lift the turf and basically flatten it out. Any little defects will be rectified.”
The short period of the Asian Cup adds pressure to the maintenance of the ground, as it’s only a two-week tournament with seven games.
Lang mentioned that “there is a lot of pressure, but at the same time [they’ve] got a lot of resources to do it.”
He also acknowledged that his being a part of coordinating the pitch at this year’s World Cup in Brazil has helped his confidence in the decision making process at AAMI Park, and made him realize that they’ve got “one chance to get it right, no excuses.”
According to Justin, “everything about the project is a positive.”