Club News

Pitch Perfect

31st August 2018

Hearts’ Betfred Cup fixture against Cowdenbeath on July 24th marked the first match to be played on the brand new playing surface at Tynecastle Park. As we prepare to host four home fixtures in September, as well as a Scotland U21 international, it is the ideal time to shed some light on the extensive work that has gone into installing our magnificent new Hybrid Pitch.

Towards the end of last season, the decision was made to replace the existing surface and fully relay a new pitch for the first time in approximately 20 years. This has involved a substantial outlay of close to £1 million, however, we now proudly boast a state-of-the-art pitch complete with a new undersoil heating, drainage and irrigation system.

Our investment has been a carefully considered process and following a period of study, the club appointed STRI to project manage the installation, which was carried out by Carrick Sports Construction LTD, along with SIS UK/SISGrass.

SISGrass was installed at 7 of the 12 venues at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, which speaks volumes for the quality of surface we now have at Tynecastle. STRI also project managed all FIFA World Cup pitches including team base camps, training pitches and stadia. Working with STRI and Carrick Sports, we have now designed and installed a surface on a par with the very best on the world stage. 

Advanced monitoring system

There is, however, far more to the pitch than meets the eye. We are delighted that Tynecastle now boasts the first full scale deployment of a state-of-the-art environmental monitoring system. This means that the pitch at Tynecastle Park will be one of the most monitored in the world, allowing us to use the very latest agronomic tools to ensure the surface is maintained to the highest possible standard. The software will enable our grounds team to automatically gather data on the live moisture levels across the pitch, air temperature around the stadium and light levels for grass growth. This will provide the grounds team with detailed insights into the condition of the pitch whilst also allowing our support staff to tweak the surface to optimise player performance and fitness.

The new Tynecastle Park pitch in numbers:

17,000,000 hybrid insertions
40,000 km of yarn
27 km of undersoil heating pipes
1500 tonnes of gravel
26 irrigation sprinklers
4600 tonnes of sand
What is a hybrid pitch?

In essence, it is a playing surface consisting of 95% grass and 5% synthetic materials. It is very much a natural turf surface, typically constructed on a sand dominated, free draining profile that is supplemented by synthetic fibres inserted vertically to a depth of 180 mm below ground, with 20 mm protruding above ground. 

A hybrid pitch provides the benefits of both a natural grass surface and a synthetic surface and allows:

  • Stability within a sand dominated profile that would otherwise naturally be very loose and unstable
  • Improved stability for the players and retention of a level playing surface
  • Provision of additional anchorage for the grass to grow and take hold
  • Increased wear tolerance throughout the season, particularly during winter months when pitch quality typically reduces
  • Improved appearance when grass loss does occur

The SISGrass installation at Tynecastle Park involved a laser-guided machine that inserted the yarn at 20mm x 20mm centres. The process was completed in around eight days at the end of June/early July and the club was able to host its first fixture on the new surface on July 24th. Whilst the pitch was less mature than ideal at that stage, the hybrid system allowed the match to be played without compromising player safety or quality of football.

Looking ahead

The September schedule at Tynecastle is quite challenging and last year such a fixture list would have been a real concern. However, with careful management we look forward to hosting St Mirren, Livingston and St Johnstone in the Ladbrokes Premiership, Motherwell in the Betfred Cup and indeed the upcoming U21 Scotland international game against Andorra.

We are also now in a position where we can consider utilising the new surface for non-footballing events in order to increase our revenue streams. Rest assured, however, that our primary concern will at all times be to ensure that the condition of the pitch remains uncompromised.

After back-to-back 5-0 wins followed by a terrific win in our first home league match of the season against Celtic, the pitch has certainly got us off to a flying start – let us hope this continues and the investment allows our groundsmen Colin and Grant to help the team claim more victories in the coming weeks and months.

Ann Budge

Images courtesy of STRI Group