It will host the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the semifinals and finals of the soccer competition. But the busiest time at Maracana Stadium might end up being when there are no athletes or spectators of television cameras around. The plan is to completely strip the existing Celebration Bermudagrass and resod the field with the same variety after the opening ceremony and before the first soccer match is played there. Olympic organizers expect the change-over to take four to five days, which leaves just another four or five days before play will take place on the new surface.
“We foresee more than 50 employees directly working during Games time to make this happen,” says Philip Wilkinson, international media manager with the 2016 Rio Organizing Committee. “Over 25,000 square meters of turf is being maintained in a grass farm about two hours outside of Rio. We have a logistics plan which has been carefully studying all variables, truck schedules, transportation, loading, unloading, etc. We will need about 42 trucks to transport over 750 big rolls to achieve success in installing turf in Maracana´s 9,000 square meter field of play. In order to succeed, we should have simultaneous operations running on both sites: harvesting at the grass farm and preparation/installation of big rolls at Maracanã Stadium.
They are taking extra precautions to make sure the process goes smoothly and that the new field is up to Olympic standards. “One of our concerns is to safely transport the loads without causing stress on grass rolls, since Rio de Janeiro has warm temperatures and intense sunlight all year round,” Wilkinson explains. Because of that, to avoid highest temperatures, we are planning operations during the mildest hours of day considering weather records.”
Also, the new sod installed for Maracana Stadium will be harvested and installed with about half-a-meter of soil attached to help ensure the playing surface will be stable despite the very quick timeframe involved. “We have chosen an organic-soil profile instead of pure sand-based and we still have the desired sod weight,” he adds. “The sod thickness increases the complexity of operations but we are confident in project success.”