STRI worked closely with Fulham FC to deliver a hybrid reinforced pitch profile at its Craven Cottage Stadium.
We were initially engaged to undertake an assessment of the existing stadium pitch and provide guidance on how the upgrade to the hybrid reinforcement could be achieved and the costs involved.
One of the main obstacles to the proposal was the presence of the existing undersoil heating pipes. Whilst these were at a sufficient depth within the profile to avoid routine aeration treatments, they were vulnerable to potentially being punctured during the proposed hybrid stitching process. Therefore, the decision was made to remove and replace the heating pipes at a lower depth within the pitch profile.
The conversion of the pitch would also necessitate removal of the existing fibre reinforced upper rootzone layer and its replacement with additional quantities of the lower rootzone sand and new layer of unreinforced upper rootzone.
The resurfacing of the pitch surface also presented the opportunity to replace and upgrade the pitch irrigation system including new sprinklers, pipes, storage tanks and pumps.
The work included:
Project management of the Fulham pitch redevelopment included the preparation of a specification and drawings and overseeing the tendering process with selected specialist pitch contractors, at the end of which CRL were appointed to complete the works.
Due to the club’s involvement in the end of season play-offs, we had only a four-week window in which to complete the main works.
Following removal of the existing upper rootzone layer, the existing heating pipes were taken out and the retained lower rootzone sand layer was then regraded and bulked up with additional material. The irrigation sprinkler heads and associated pipework were also removed, as were the old storage tanks and pumps.
Replacement heating pipes and a new irrigation system were then installed prior to importing a new upper rootzone layer which was spread over the lower rootzone sand. The irrigation system was recommissioned which facilitated final seed bed preparations and seeding of the pitch was achieved on 14 June. The use of germination sheets enabled a rapid seed germination and initial grass establishment to be achieved and the new turf was sufficiently mature to enable the hybrid stitching to commence on 3 July. The hybrid reinforcement was undertaken by SISGrass using two of their stitching machines which completed the works by 11 July.
The Club assumed responsibility for maintaining the pitch over the remainder of the summer and a pre-season friendly was held at the stadium on 29 July, with the first home game of the new 2017/18 season being played on 5 August.
As part of its overall project management responsibilities, STRI undertook regular site monitoring visits and held progress meetings with club representatives and the contractor.
The redevelopment of the Craven Cottage pitch was delivered to the club on schedule and under budget.