StadiaPitch ‘pitch’ ing in with smart pitches

Video: Coliseum Global Sports Venue Alliance (YouTube)

StadiaPitch – powered by Bosch Rexroth – is an automated pitch changeover system that reduces the changeover time between sports and concerts from days to hours. With StadiaPitch, organizers are able to offer far more dates for concerts and events. At the push of a button, the stadium operator can switch from a football pitch to a concrete floor, suitable for events.

Matthias Mehling, Business Development Manager, Bosch Rexroth for StadiaPitch, Germany, makes a strong ‘pitch’ for StadiaPitch and gives exclusive inputs to ‘Coliseum’ as to how the company helps develop ‘smart stadia’ and help venues become true 365 event destinations through the retractable pitch system and ‘storing-the-pitch technology’ – all in the recently held Coliseum Online Week MENA.

Bosch Profile

The Bosch Group is financially very well-oiled – making about 75 billion euros in sales, and boasts 300,000 employees worldwide. The company not only sells washing machines and automotive products in the car industry, but they are also active for decades now in the stadium industry where they are selling video systems, control systems and many other safety and security solutions. They are providing intelligent sound system, climate and energy solutions, building management solutions and mobility solutions.

Bosch Rexroth

Matthias Mehling shares that Bosch Rexroth, which is part of the Bosch Group, is delivering control solutions for retractable roof systems, movable grandstands or StadiaPitch, the movable natural grass field.

Added Mehling, “For those who are not familiar with Bosch Rexroth, the company is delivering drive and control solutions from component level to turnkey solutions. Our technology is very often not seen or is recognized only with Bosch Rexroth technology. As expected, you will find our technology imprinted in many theaters or opera houses like the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia or the Opera House in Bayreuth (Germany), the London Eye, the Tower Bridge is driven by Rexroth technology. One of the historical lifts of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (France) is equipped with Bosch Rexroth hydraulics.”

He continued, “We are active in the stadium industry and our technological marvels is best manifested in the football stadium Gelre Dome, Arnhem (Netherlands), Caja Magica in Madrid (Spain), and you will also find our technology in many civil engineering application projects like the Panama Canal or the biggest ship on earth – the Pioneer Spirit, Allseas, which can lift oil rig on oil platform as a whole from the sea, from the sea bed. So, we prove that we can lift heavy loads very precisely and we translated this experience to develop this retractable pitch system.”

Challenges for arenas

  • The challenges for arenas are similar worldwide. Building them, renovating or modernizing them is very expensive and when opened or reopened they are producing limited income;
  • Of course, very often arenas have low level of utilization. Most of the time they are empty more or less to secure the pitch, the quality of the pitch;
  • Organizational limitations – Says Mehling, “If you want to overcome these challenges and you want to host concerts, or other big-ticket events in a stadium, you will destroy the pitch and you will not be able to squeeze a non-sport event between two home games because of the changeover time from sport mode to event mode and because of the recovery time which is needed by the pitch because each event will harm or destroy the pitch.”
  • Architectural limitations – “Modern arenas are also having architectural limitations issue over overshadowing because of the fancy roof construction very often and many stadia are then focusing only on sports which limit the sponsorship potential,” he asserted.


Advantage StadiaPitch

With StadiaPitch, the above challenges can be overcome and one can host much more events:

  • Increase the degree of utilization of your stadium;
  • The venue can become a true 365 event destination;
  • Helps venues gain full organizational flexibility;
  • Architectural freedom; and
  • Non-sport spectators also come into the stadium which increases the sponsorship potential.

Mehling asserted that the above scenario can be possible only with a perfect pitch because the pitch is rolled to another location so that the same does not get destroyed.

The pitch expert informed, “With the StadiaPitch system, you can build up a business model – very profitable and sustainable business model where you can host every event you can think of and you are gaining more revenue and better profitable level of the stadium and you will also create benefits for the City, for tourism, for the local community, and for the City development and other stakeholders which are involved in and around the stadium.”

StadiaPitch – boosting stadium potential


Pitch prowess

Mehling explained that the principle is that the pitch is modularized so it has different segments and these segments are moved out automatically by an automated guided vehicle. These pitch segments are then stored in different ways in a storage chamber so that they remain under perfect conditions.

‘Smart’ pitch

He further explained, “Then arena operators can host every event they want without destroying the pitch because the event takes place on a concrete floor and then the pitch comes again back into the stadium perfectly aligned and playable relatively shortly after the event. You can visit our test application center at Bingley in West Yorkshire (UK), it is the headquarter of the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) – one of our partners who develop the pitch and there you can touch and feel the grass, the quality of the grass, and you can see that the playability of the pitch reaches the highest standard.”

STRI, formerly the Sports Turf Research Institute, is a global design and consultancy specialist for the development of elite standard sports surfaces, based in St Ives, Bingley, West Yorkshire, England.

Stadia pitch major components

The Stadia Pitch system consists of four major components:

  • Modular Pitch;
  • Pitch Module Storage Area;
  • Automated movement system; and
  • Positioning devices for the accurate positioning of the segments in the concrete floor.

Informed Mehling, “The pitch segments have standard size of 9 meters by 4.5 meters. This size allows us to use the tunnels in many existing arenas which usually have width of 5 meters. But, the size of the trays of the segments can be adjusted from smaller to much bigger. So, we are very flexible regarding this, we can trust the size of the segments according to the needs of the customers or the wishes of the customers.”

Lauding STRI, he continued, “The pitch was developed and tested by the STRI in England. It is one of the most experienced companies regarding sports pitches in the world. They have the highest reputation worldwide and they are working and consulting for FIFA, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the other associations. They are also working with Wimbledon and the Ascot Racecourse authorities, so, they are very experienced and we want to work with them because we want to guarantee the highest quality of the pitch. It must be sustainable, especially their choice. We have a four-year development testing program where we have tested the stability and sustainability of the pitch and the perfect composition of the infield material in the aluminum trays. They also developed the specifications for maintaining the pitch in a closed chamber.”

‘Storing’ the pitch

One of the big advantages of the system compare also to other existing systems is the storage flexibility that StadiaPitch boast. You can store the pitch outside – the arena on the ground floor you can combine it with a parking concept and store it on an elevated platform. If you have space inside the stadium, you can store it in the interior of the stadium – especially relevant for U-design stadiums because the architect can design in an area where this can be stored and you can build an external building to store the pitch. Such is the marvel of a modular pitch!

Mehling pointed out, “The most cost-effective system option is the ‘External: On ground floor’ one and the most expensive one is the ‘External: As external building’ but all options are still less expensive than the systems which were installed last year like in the jaw-dropping Allegiant Stadium (US). They required I think over 100 million euros only for the sliding technology. The ‘External: On ground floor’ the basic system would have had a price tag of 20 to 25 million euros. So, it is much more flexible but much less expensive than this other solutions.”

He added, “The third component is the Automated Movement System where we are using automated guided vehicles – AGVs. This is no rocket science but a proven technology used in many applications today or for years both inside in manufacturing areas and outside in logistic sports where these AGVs are running more or less without human interference. So, we are using proven used technology for this new application and this is I think another very big advantage of this system.”

Mehling concluded by stating, “We also consider the concrete floor and adjoining surroundings so that we can deliver vertically adjustable ramps and platforms to level out height differences between the concrete floor and the sideline areas. We will deliver also closing mechanisms like flaps for the boundary to bridge the gap between the boundary of the pitch and the side areas. And also for heating and irrigation you don’t have to invent new things. These devices are based on commonly used technology. So, all in all, to get a turnkey product for a stadium – for existing stadium or a new stadium this enables you to host an event of your choice. It is a very sophisticated solution.”

So, with StadiaPitch, sport stadiums are evolving into profitable and sustainable true multipurpose arenas, true 360 event destination combined with a perfect pitch.

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