Allianz Park is Planned for Grass to be Perfect All Year Round
Palmeiras Arena has had a new grass variety since April last year and is ready to make full or partial field changes after shows.
The Palmeiras fans will see a “rug” in the field of the Allianz Park from January–December 2018. This is the planning of the administration of the arena and Itograss, the company that has supplied the grass of the place since last April. World Sports continues to be responsible for maintaining the grass.
The strategy has three pillars: the new grass variety (took out Tifgrand Bermuda and installed Celebration® Bermuda), partial or total grass replacement (two totals in 2017, with satisfactory result) and early analysis of the game schedule (there will be a meeting next week to plan the whole season).
“The first thing I proposed was to change the grass variety. I very much believed that the variety that was there was inferior to the variety that we have. We changed the grass in April last year, which was when the grass started to go around. The grass there was called Tifgrand Bermuda, and now we have the Celebration Bermuda. This Celebration had already proved superior in the Cup. It was the grass of five of the 12 World Cup stadiums, including Mineirão and Maracanã,” explains Breno Rodrigo Couto, manager of Itograss.
“This grass has a greater recovery capacity. In addition to supporting the wear of the cleats, it recovers faster. And it has an advantage over shading. All the varieties used in sports fields are extremely dependent on the sunlight, more than grasses for landscaping or gardening. Celebration also needs light, only it can withstand the half-shadow condition of the stadium,” he added.
In addition to changing the grass type, the company provides the technology for the grass to be changed quickly. This process was first made at Allianz Park in April of last year: the grass was all removed for Justin Bieber, Elton John and James Taylor shows and replanted for the match between Palmeiras and Peñarol. Between the last show and the game, six days passed.
In September, the procedure was repeated. The grass was removed for a rock festival between the 21st and 26th and soon replanted for the game between Palmeiras and Santos, on the 30th. In that case, the result ended up being hampered by the heavy rain that fell before and during the classic. As the grass had just been planted, the drainage was running slower and several puddles formed. WTorre believes that there would be no problem if the rain was less intense.
At the meeting next week, WTorre and Itograss will decide when there will be grass changes in 2018 – it should be two or three throughout the year. The time of greatest attention, in principle, will be in May; there will be a show of Ozzy Osbourne on the 13th and game of the Liberators on the 16th. The parties will still assess whether it is best to make the complete change of the grass or change only the damaged parts.
In 2017, a scheduled replacement was cancelled because it was not necessary. Experience has shown that the grass variety that is there now has better wear tolerance than the previous one. “The big factor was the variety change, because the maintenance company is the same (World Sports), the stadium is the same and the coverage is the same,” explained Breno.
The grass used for the replacement is planted on a farm in Tremembé (SP), in the Vale do Paraíba region. There is another area planted on the top floor of the arena. From there, pieces of grass are taken for minor corrections after the matches.
“World Sports uses a small area upstairs for repairs. For the complete renovation, a much higher level of technology is required, sand cover, cuts, maintenance identical to the stadium… We produce the lawn on the farm as if it were a football field. Upstairs there must be 600 m². In my opinion, to make the complete renovation, we need to have 50 percent more grass, we need to have 15,000 m² ready,” explains the manager of Itograss.
“The Allianz Parque field was the most used in the world in 2017, counting shows, events and games. It came in second place in 2016, if I’m not mistaken, but with strong criticism. There was even wear and tear between president, Cuca and Allianz. Last year, they managed to use the field more and there was zero wear and tear,” concluded Breno.
See a ball with Breno Rodrigo Couto, Manager of Itograss:
LANCE: When did your company come to provide the grass of Allianz Park?
In April of last year. Since the opening of the stadium, which is almost perfect, the pitch was a downside. We accompany the staff saying that the grass was not fit for the arena. We, as the largest producers of grass in Latin America, had a lot of interest in picking up this grass, we really wanted to be inside. With the problems they were having last year, they called us to talk.
The lawn has been in good condition lately. What is different about the grass?
Yes. The grass that is there is more tolerant of shading. This arena model cares a lot about the viewer, so you have most of the seats covered. But this greatly diminishes the incidence of light on the lawn, and light is critical for the grass to make photosynthesis, a number of factors. When FIFA lowered the size of the field, they were less square meters for the same 22 guys running 10km, 12km per game. You have a smaller space for greater wear. All this requires a different level of technology, artificial lighting, more aggressive maintenance. And if you are going to use concert stages, a very quick exchange for the arena can be multipurpose.
What is the difference between the procedure of partial exchange of the grass and that of the total exchange?
It is very similar, only the footage is smaller. When you have a tower that sits on the grass for longer or a stage that sits in a single part of the field, it is necessary to make a punctual exchange. They have already realized that this grass resists more, so the need for swapping is less, it supports more material that is used on the lawn.