Update as at 20 Dec:
The Sports Hub has decided that the pitch at the National Stadium will be natural grass. However, rather than ripping up and replacing the existing turf, the new surface will simply be placed on top of it.
Who Says Growing Grass Is Easy?
It’s been called “sandy”, “unplayable”, and “more synthetic than natural”. Nope, it’s not yo’ momma’s face, but the pitch at the National Stadium has also had its fair share of detractors.
And now, just five months after opening, the existing green of natural grass and artificial fibres will be replaced by a completely synthetic surface — the very surface rejected by Sports Hub Pte Ltd (SHPL) in the early stages of construction.
After pitch complaints at the Singapore-Juventus FC exhibition match in May, SHPL spent $1.5 million on installing lighting systems before October’s Japan-Brazil international friendly. However, the pitch was still deemed too sandy, even on Saturday’s AFF Championship match where Singapore lost to Thailand 2-1. Local footballer Baihakki Khaizan also criticized the stadium in a lengthy Instagram post, calling it a “#stadiumforconcerts”.
Scheduled rugby matches and even a Jay Chou concert were shelved or cancelled to allow the pitch to recuperate and mature, but it seems progress has not been promising, leading to today’s announcement to replace the surface.
SGAG applauded the move —
— while Andimoo Comics was feeling hungry.
So Whose Fault Is This?
Perhaps no one is to blame. The current hybrid surface — known as the Desso GrassMaster — is used in major stadiums around the world, from Stamford Bridge in the UK to the Arena Corinthians in Brazil. Maybe the stadium dome that keeps the heat out also prevents the sunlight from coming in — a basic need in grass growing.
Despite being easier to maintain, synthetic grass is unpopular among players, as it affects bounce and grip, essential factors in professional football. While using synthetic surfaces may be passable for school fields and smaller stadiums, when it comes to the National Stadium, only natural grass is worthy.