Pitch Preparations Begin At Everton's Future Home

Ground works have begun to prepare Everton Stadium for the construction of the playing surface.

Contractors arrived on site this week to begin underground works on the surrounds ahead of a summer of complex work to prepare a top-class pitch for a world class stadium.

And the first job is to dig out the piling mat; a layer of recycled stone initially rolled out on top of the compacted sand over two years ago, to provide a solid surface for vehicles to work upon.

Ben Williams, Package Manager for Laing O’Rourke, who is overseeing the pitch development, explained: “It’s great now that SEL Environmental are on board and this is the initial phase of the works.

“They are going through and trimming the top layer of the piling mat and installing all of the pitchside ducting, which gets everything ready for the maintenance and other services around the pitch, including all the cabling for the broadcasters, piping for the irrigation and undersoil heating and below-ground drainage.”

One the piling mat has been stripped back to the original sand layer created from sea-dredged sand, the layers needed for the pitch will be built up, beginning with impermeable membranes that provide a barrier for the top-level works.

On top of this, a hot air system will be installed to manage the undersoil heating, layered beneath a drainage system that also allows for water storage for irrigation.

Atop that, heating pipes and a gravel layer will be installed, on which the lower and upper rootzone and grass will sit.

Williams added: “Once we dig down, we will be on the top of the sand layer and we want to try and keep that segregated from the rest of our system, so there are impermeable membranes to be put down, then the piping of the undersoil heating into the drainage system, making sure it is robust enough and avoiding damaging anything as we go along, because that can be costly to repair at a later stage.

“At the minute, we are just concentrating on the initial stages of those ducting and utility installations.

“SEL will then return around July to install the root layers, all of the drainage and irrigation and build up the layers, and we’re hoping to start planting grass seed around August time.”

Once the seeding is complete in early October, specialised machinery will then stitch synthetic fibres into the roots of the grass to strengthen them and provide a robust Desso surface.

These fibres, covering around 5% of the playing surface, are designed to interlock with the growing grass to provide strength and longevity.

Williams explained: “It’s a hybrid system, so the ground will be seeded all the way around and then, around six weeks into that, synthetic fibres are stitched into it, so that gives the grass added stability to ensure it can give more playing time.”