HG Sports Turf are about to undertake the resurfacing of not one, but two of Australia’s biggest stadiums.
Erik Kinlon, general manager for Melbourne based HG Sports Turf, is responsible for overseeing the resurfacing of the MCG straight after this year’s AFL Grand Final.
Meanwhile, Erik’s NSW based counterpart, Nathan Humphreys, will be looking after the resurfacing of ANZ Stadium at the same time, in what is sure to be a busy period for the company.
Erik says that because of HG’s unique portfolio of proprietary turf systems, the overall operation can be very diverse. The systems they offer are on show in some of the world’s most iconic venues with a product range that includes natural turf, stabilised turf, hybrid turf and synthetic turf.
HG has been the supplier of stabilised turf to the MCG since the late nineties, so have a long and distinguished relationship with ‘The G’.
“We were tasked with the last rebuild of the field before the Commonwealth Games in 2006 so we have a clear understanding of the project ahead,” says Erik.
“The Motz stabilised turf system we use has been redeveloped in conjunction with The Motz Group and is now called Eclipse Stabilised Turf. It is jointly patented with HG Sports Turf and the Motz Group.
“This is the stabilised turf that both ANZ and the MCG will have installed later this year. Obviously there are other reinforced turf systems out there but we feel that the Eclipse leads the way, because it stabilises the surface.”
Erik says that the whole process has a few specific steps.
“We initially establish the turf at the turf farms by laying a field of the patented Eclipse carpet, then we infill it to a profile depth of 40mm and grow the natural grass in this profile. The turf is matured by our highly experience sports turf managers at the turf farms until stadium ready. It is then harvested and brought to the stadiums, where it is laid as a ready to play system.
“With the MCG project, we will be stripping the top off and removing some material in order to bring the field back to the original design levels from when it was last reconstructed in 2006 for the Commonwealth Games.
“Following the initial surveys to identify the cut requirements, the first leg of the process is to take the top off the ground and that will be done with mechanical excavators and also Koro Field Topmakers, with the material being stockpiled for removal.
“Then the next step will be to re-grade the profile back to design levels in preparation for the Eclipse Stabilised Turf.
“Once the final grading and surface preparation is complete the turf laying process will commence. A very co-ordinated approach will be adopted in order to relay the 18,000m2 plus, in line with the project program.
“The Eclipse Stabilised Turf is a ready to play system and this will be seen in full effect at ANZ stadium when Australia plays South Africa in a cricket T20 game just five days after final turf install.”
Just like the longstanding relationship that HG has with the MCG, they have also been involved at ANZ for many years going back to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
At both stadiums they supply and install a significant quantity of turf annually for their turf replacements throughout the year.
Both of these resurfacing projects are scheduled ahead of major sporting events with the ICC World Cup at the MCG and the Asian Cup at ANZ, something that Erik says is probably the biggest challenge with a project of that scale.
“The overall planning process and project management is vital to the success of the operation,” admits Erik.
“There are just so many different variables that can have an influence in terms of delivery of the whole project and you have to pre-empt these and make contingency plans to ensure expectations are met.”
While it can be challenging, Erik says that there are a lot of rewarding things about working on such high profile venues.
“Sometimes you just pinch yourself, working somewhere like the MCG or ANZ, the most preeminent sports stadiums in Australasia.
“The collaborative approach from everybody involved from start to finish is also extremely rewarding.
“But ultimately the greatest satisfaction is watching an event that is televised globally, knowing that you had a part to play in it. And yes, there might have been some ups and downs along the way, but nobody ever sees that on game day.”