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More than just a synthetic turf pitch

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During the period from July 2008 until April 2009 at the Hegestrasse sports field, the first synthetic turf pitch in Gladbeck was installed. As can be seen from the following however, these sport facilities are characterised by much more than simply by a new synthetic turf playing field.

The state of the existing competition track no longer satisfied the requirements for modern club, hobby and school sport. The sport facilities were basically made up of a large clay area with playing field, oval track and segments, although these were hardly used any more for field athletics. The drainage of the clay area was also insufficient so that after rainfall, the sports field resembled a lake, and not least, changed requirements from the users made a completely new concept for the sports field necessary.

As with the majority of sports facilities, the main use is football. For this reason the main area of the facilities is formed by a large playing pitch and a warming-up area located at the northern front end of the new pitch. Both the large playing pitch, size 68 x 105 metres, and the warming up area, were equipped with synthetic turf. After comprehensive discussions with players and the city authorities, as well as a tour of other facilities where different synthetic turf systems of varying ages were viewed, the final decision was clearly in favour of a sand-filled synthetic turf as per DIN V 18035-7, appendix A, surface type C. In particular, the assured experience with regard to the expected life expectancy of 12 to 15 years under normal use, as well as low maintenance costs compared to sand-rubber-filled surfaces, were the main reasons for this decision. In the mean time, synthetic turf has become well established as surface for football. It has the incontestable advantages compared to grass and clay surfaces that it is practically unaffected by weather, is suitable for permanent markings and, in addition, has a high stimulative nature. In order to ensure a lasting force reduction for both synthetic turf surfaces, these were laid on top of a 35-mm elastic base layer (shock pad) as per DIN V 10835-7. This installation method ensures sustained force reduction characteristics throughout the whole operating life of the synthetic turf surface. As has been seen in the past, the bonded elastic base layer can be reused without any great outlay if the synthetic turf is replaced.

In order to reduce wear of the synthetic fibres, improve the sliding effect and to reduce the surface temperature, which can reach more than 60°C in strong sunlight, the artificial pitch surfaces were fitted with an automatic below-turf watering system. The water supply is carried out with two full-circle and 12 semi-circle sprinklers installed as far as possible within the paved areas. This ensures that a defect sprinkler can be removed without cutting the turf and, at the same time, that the sprinklers are not damaged during maintenance of the turf.

To make the sport facilities suitable for field athletics, a sprint track with four single running tracks and an overall length of 120 metres was laid at the long, south-west side of the playing field. This sprint track is integrated into an oval running track for long-distance races. As the artificial turf cannot be combined with all other kinds of surface and the sprint track was installed directly next to the large playing pitch, this track was fitted with a synthetic running surface. Sandwich surfaces (as per DIN V 18035-6, appendix A, surface type D) have proved to be long-lasting and hard wearing, whereby the cost of this kind of surface is significantly lower than that of a solid synthetic surface and the life expectancy is higher than for a water-permeable surface.
A long-jump pit was integrated into the finishing area of the sprint track was so that the sprint track can also be used as the approach and take-off strip for the long jump.

Paths, light and greenery

The paths immediately next to the artificial turf and synthetic surfaces were given a paved finish in order on the one hand, to reduce maintenance costs and on the other hand, to avoid transfer of dirt to the turf and running surfaces. On the long side between the sports facilities and the school, a stepped spectator standing area allows up to 400 spectators a better view of the sports being played.
To prevent injury to the spectators or interference with the players, a chain-link ring fence with 25-millimetre sized links was installed. This also prevents animals such as rabbits from entering the facilities. On the longer side of the pitch two openings were left in the fence for construction of the player benches and to allow access for the junior football goals which must now no longer be lifted over a barrier. Along with prevention of injury to the players, this also prevents the barriers and the goalposts from damage. On both front ends of the playing field, ball nets were planned and, in order to allow training sessions and play in the evenings, a floodlighting system with six masts and a total of 12 floodlights were installed. To reduce the amount of radiated light outside the sports arena and to prevent dazzling of the players, modern, asymmetrical vertical floodlights were used.
The thick bushes and trees were cut down to some extent so that new areas were able to be created. Where possible some single trees were left. Towards the clubhouse and in the direction of the school, different functional areas were separated from one another with hedges. The remaining open areas were gently landscaped and sown with landscaping grass seed.

During the invitation for tenders, the trade sections of sports facility construction, sprinkler systems, training floodlighting, artificial turf and synthetic surfaces were published separately. This had the particular advantage for the architects that additional charges for subcontractors could be avoided and that the possibility for the planners always existed for them to have an influence on the individual companies and retain complete charge of the situation. The total construction cost for the project, including all incidental costs, amounted to 1,090,000 Euro. At this point it must be mentioned that the tenders for the artificial turf were published as a functional specification. Taking into account that synthetic turf systems available in the market cannot always be easily compared, valuation of the surfaces is not possible by price alone. As the suppliers were made aware of the corresponding valuations before making their quotes, each one could adjust his offer according to the product-specific properties such as fibre strength and weight. The objective of this process was not to use the cheapest, but the most competitively priced synthetic turf surface.

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