• Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Bernabeu’s love for grass inspires NFL

The decision by the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid to embrace the most modern technology to maintain a good natural turf stadium surface seems to be going to pay for itself soon.

It has been reported that the American NFL has shortlisted the venue as a possible location to host more American football games in Europe.

The NFL is considering increasing the number of games played outside the US. 

At present, three games are being played at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in London and two in the Allianz Arena, the home ground of Bayern Munich. American synthetic turf installer Hellas recently upgraded the synthetic turf pitch that is used in London. This surface has been installed underneath a retractable natural turf surface.

With the debate about surfaces used increasingly intensifying following complaints by vocal players, a natural turf surface appears to be preferred.

Yet, playing on grass in London does not seem to be an option for the time being, despite the fact that the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium is also equipped with a greenhouse that is loaded with technology for maintaining the natural turf while the venue is being used for something different.

In Munich, the games are played on turf, but the intensity and grass growth limitations caused by the design of the venue gave Bayern Munich FC a lot of headaches at the end of the last season.

It made the NFL decide to move the two games that were supposed to be hosted in Munich, to Frankfurt. The surface it the Deutsch Bank Arena is currently being converted from full natural to hybrid.

Special greenhouse

Stadium management in Madrid has been tackling things differently. Here, the stadium management invested in a special underground greenhouse as part of its refurbishment of the venue. The natural grass surface is moved to this greenhouse in times when the stadium is being used for events that do not necessarily require a natural turf surface.

That greenhouse contains an array of technical innovations that nurture the field. The most distinctive technique is the LED grass growth technology of Rhenac Sports LED, which can easily be identified, thanks to the bluish or purple colour it emits.

By supplementing a certain light colour and light intensity, the light stimulates growth of either the leaves or roots. It also makes the grass plant less vulnerable to diseases. The light management system is connected to the automatic irrigation, aeration and fertilization systems as well as the robotic mowers used to cut the field. By interconnecting all these technologies, stadium management of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium have ensured that they’ll maximise the technology to maintain their field.

One of three

The Bernabeu Stadium is one of three on a list of possible NFL stadiums in Europe. The Civitas Metropolitan Stadium of Atletico Madrid and Stade de France in Paris are the other two. The latter stadium will be the backdrop for the 2024 Summer Olympic, which is the reason why it may not be available in time for the NFL to host its game.

In addition to Europe, the NFL is also considering expansion to South America.

Guy Oldenkotte

Guy Oldenkotte is senior editor of sportsfields.info and has been covering the outdoor sportssurfaces market and industry since 2003

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