The Groundsman

December 2014

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AHEAD OF THE GAME 18 the Groundsman December 2014 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions obody involved in sports turf management should forego the opportunity to get pitch-side at Wembley Stadium – especially when there's an opportunity to hear how head groundsman Tony Stones and his team consistently manage to 'turn the pitch around' in tight timeframes to suit a varied and packed fixture list. So, it was no surprise when more than 160 grounds professionals attended England's national stadium for the Rigby Taylor-sponsored seminar on the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) where in addition to a series of informative presentations by a range of industry experts, delegates also came face-to- face with Tony and his team. There were certainly raised eyebrows when Tony outlined some of the pressures they face in preparing the pitch for a seemingly ever-demanding events schedule, not least overcoming very short renovation windows that effectively mean that the usual 'major' summer renovation N Moving the goalposts – at Wembley Meeting the vision to 'lead the way and produce a world-class surface for every event', Wembley Stadium's groundscare team seemingly thrives on the constant challenges presented at one of Europe's most heavily-used venues By: Colin Hoskins now takes place during the winter. Facing a barrage of questions, none of which Tony ducked, delegates heard how the Wembley pitch is managed to cope with the heavy usage – over 230 hours last year, compared to the usual 100 or so for Premier League – including their strategies for irrigation, roof opening and the undersoil heating (which Tony is loath to use) as well as the frequent use of grow lights and tents, which are in action extensively between October and March. The evidence presented clearly illustrated why the Wembley team won the 2103 IOG Industry Award for the Professional Sports Ground Team of the Year. Their award-winning submission embraced season 2013-14 when the stadium hosted 58 football, rugby and multi-use events, plus several music concerts and, in fact, in one month alone accommodated four different codes of sport and entertainment. Tony Stones talks tight turnarounds

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