The excitement of visiting some of the U.S.’s prestigious sporting venues will never fade with me.
The StubHub Center, home to Los Angeles Galaxy and also the Chivas USA MLS team and U.S. Olympic soccer training site, is a fantastic facility in its layout and location, with a stadium at its center and training pitches all around, with privacy offered on some to protect teams from prying eyes.
Shaun Ilten, manager, turf and grounds at the StubHub, was interested in the Koro-style renovation method that we use in Europe, and wanted to replicate the technique at the StubHub when time allowed.
Well, early in November that time arrived. We had the opportunity to put a training field out for five to six weeks. With the assistance of Jock Eddington of Sports Turf Services, Jerad Minnick and Julie Adamski of Maryland SoccerPlex, and Paul Burgess of Real Madrid in Spain we set to work.
The chosen field was scheduled for a re-turf to replace the worn areas and improve the surface levels, an expensive procedure that involves a number of components, including layering, soil compatibility and grass species selection.
The crew at the StubHub Center.
We invited a selection of universities and sports teams to view the work. I take my hat off to many of the groundsmen and women in the U.S. because the main work was carried out on a Saturday and Sunday, and good numbers turned up to view and discuss the processes. There is a huge appetite that I admire for the progress of natural grass improvement in the U.S.
The field was Koro’d off down to the lower thatch level, approximately 1 inch using the Universe rotor, a process that took about eight hours. We were then left with a stable and level base. Next, 100 tons of sand was spread across the surface, followed by decompacting the surface and ameliorating the new sand with the existing rootzone. Overseeding was then done using a pure ryegrass variety, the chosen species for this field. A light roll and then water. All so simple and saving a lot of money on a resod price with the added benefit of soil-seed compatibility.
The field is due to be in play before Christmas. This period frightens so many groundsmen, but it is easily achievable in good growing temperatures. It is now in the hands of the capable grounds staff at the StubHub Center.
I then traveled with Jerad and Paul to Seattle to view the many facilities in the area. The climate in Washington is very close to the U.K. in rainfall and temperature, so it’s much easier for me to understand the demands of play.
We visited the Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC), the Seattle Seahawks NFL training ground. What a beautiful location this is, and the standard of natural turf presented was superb. Well done to Sean Vanos and his team!
Thank you so much to everyone that has taken the time to show us their facilities and time for a beer or two in the evening. It was an absolute pleasure to spend time with you in Seattle to share views and ideas.
Later this month I will be in Moscow, Russia, doing a renovation at a high-end soccer club, so from the glorious sunshine of California to the freezing temperatures of Moscow!
Plans are now in place for the STMA show in San Antonio. This is a show I enjoy, as it offers the education opportunity combined with a lovely social scene. I have been asked to present part two of “The Renovation Practices of Real Madrid and Manchester United,” and I hope to have both groundsmen with me to explain in greater detail their practices and methods of maintenance.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules this year to let me visit you and your facilities – hopefully you have benefited as much as I have.
Best wishes to you all for a very happy Christmas and great New Year. Thank you for reading my ramblings over the last year.
Simon Gumbrill is sales director at Campey Turf Care Systems, U.K.