STRI Deliver Bucharest Pitch Fit to Host Europa League Final
STRI ensured the playing surface at the National Arena in Bucharest, Romania, was ready to host the Europa League Final between Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.
The fully renovated National Arena hosted its first showpiece final on May 9th 2012 at the 55,600 capacity venue.
We were commissioned by the Romanian government to make significant improvements to the pitch following the inaugural match at the stadium in September 2011 between Romania and France.
The playing surface had received widespread condemnation having failed during the UEFA Euro 2012 Group D qualifier due to the installation of an inferior turf with an inconsistent and unstable upper rootzone.
As a temporary arrangement immediately following the Romania versus France match, we recommended an immediate re-turf to ensure the National Arena could fulfil its domestic and Europa League fixture obligations during the winter months of 2011.
Paul Flanagan, our consultant and project manager in Bucharest says: “The pitch performance during the Romania versus France match was of great embarrassment to the Romanian authorities, as the playing surface fell way below expectations during its official inauguration.
“Following this, we initially provided consultation on an emergency returf as the only available solution available due to the time constraints.”
Following the returf, we were approached in February 2012 to work closely with the stadium operators to co-ordinate a re-construction of the pitch, which involved removing the unstable upper rootzone and replacing it with fibre sand and a premium grade stadium turf.
Paul Flanagan says: “We were briefed by the government to completely overhaul the surface and deliver one of the finest playing surfaces in Europe fitting to host the UEFA Europa League Final.”
Having eventually sourced the appropriate sand in Romania following an extensive search throughout the country, we undertook laboratory analysis of the samples at our UK headquarters to ensure the sand composition was suitable.
Paul Flanagan recalls: “We were working to a very tight deadline from the outset to achieve the pitch re-construction required. We had a harsh winter in Romania and experienced two metres of snow, which made the search for a suitable sand stock pile extremely challenging.
“In addition the machinery required, encompassing six truck loads, had to be transported from the UK and Ireland all the way to Bucharest due to a lack of provision of local machinery. “
In conjunction with the contractor, work commenced in early March 2012 to remove the existing turf and upper rootzone. The pitch grades and levels were then restored using 3D laser guided equipment. An installation of fibre sand in layers then followed before the turfing process commenced.
Paul Flanagan summarises: “The pitch re-construction that we co-ordinated was an ambitious project to deliver in the timescale. However, the playing surface was in perfect condition in time to complement the surroundings at one of European football’s most prestigious occasions and will enable the playing surface to perform at an optimal level in the future.”