The PlayMaster field at the Johan Cruyff ArenA has been replaced by a GrassMaster system.
Both systems are hybrid pitches from Tarkett Sports. The PlayMaster is a so-called lay-and-play solution, whereby the synthetic turf fibres are anchored in a backing, while the fibres in a GrassMaster field are injected into the field. “We opted for the GrassMaster system for now because this field came out best this year,” stadium management explained in a response.
The ArenA has its own (hybrid) fields at the Hendriks Graszoden nursery, which it can have transported to the ArenA immediately, when necessary.
The favourable weather conditions this summer enabled the ArenA to go for the normal sods instead of the hybrid sods, with the PlayMaster solution incorporated, as the grass was able to immediately take root in the soil at the ArenA. Shortly thereafter, the field was injected with synthetic turf fibres.
Despite the long history of the GrassMaster, it is the first time that this system has been installed in the Johan Cruyff ArenA. “A GrassMaster in the ArenA only became feasible with the arrival of our electric stitching machines. These machines are less heavy, meaning they exercise less stress on the vulnerable sods during the injection of the fibres. In addition, they work faster than the old machines, making it possible to hand the field back to the stadium management much quicker,” notes Arjan Knottnerus of Tarkett Sports. The new machines have an operating speed of 30m2 per hour. “When really necessary, we will use several machines to finish the installation within 3 to 4 days.”
Maintenance better to manage
By choosing the GrassMaster, anchor tenant Ajax FC will now play on the same surface in the coming period as it is training on at its training facility De Toekomst. Roy van Dijk, the groundsman of the ArenA, has already noticed a difference. “The grass now takes root faster because it doesn’t have to go through a backing first.” For him, the GrassMaster offers the advantage that he can better control the growing conditions. “We have many sensors in the field that provide us feedback on developments. We have noticed with the warm weather, that the heat has less of a grip on the surface than was the case with a PlayMaster. There, the plastic of the backing absorbed the heat and reflected it to the roots.” This saves the ArenA energy and cost, as it no longer has to immediately deploy large fans or (partially) close the roof to cool down the field.
Van Dijk is now also more flexible with watering the field. “It is known that the injected synthetic grass fibres of the GrassMaster direct the water to the subsoil more quickly. Now we can keep the field a bit drier, so that we only have to water very briefly before the start of a game.” That too, is a saving that will ultimately make a big difference to the ArenA.
Always a Plan B
The PlayMaster is certainly not out of the picture for the ArenA. “The ArenA always has two options: the GrassMaster system and the PlayMaster. Both systems have the same result and are both already being used successfully, nationally and internationally,” emphasizes the ArenA spokesperson. Last season, the PlayMaster proved that it can certainly excel in stadium environments when the PlayMaster pitch of Tottenham Hotspurs was voted the best stadium pitch in the league. “We always have a Plan A and a Plan B,” notes van Dijk. That is why the ArenA always has a complete PlayMaster pitch on standby at Hendriks Graszoden. “This allows us to always go for another plan when the circumstances require this. Just like that, we can go back to Plan A when it turns out that is the better option,” he says.