Volgograd Stadium – England on Familiar Footing

Capacity: 45,568 – Opened: 2018

Volgograd, also known as Stalingrad has been subject to some of the most devastating battles during the course of its history. However, this modern, bustling city is now host to a World-Class stadium to be used for four World Cup matches, most importantly of which is England first game against Tunisia.

Volgograd Stadium.

A decision was made that all stadia pitches for Russia 2018 would be stitched hybrid forms of pitch construction. In 2015 Russian sports surface Contractor Michael Puchkov of Sports Technology contacted, PSD Managing Director, Charles Henderson. Michael and I spent four days touring hybrid pitch constructions and renovations at Man City CFA, Stoke City Training Grounds, Debry County Pride Park Stadium and Brentford FC Stadium and training grounds. Following a review of company skill sets, a partnership bid was formed for two stadia constructions in Russia for the World Cup.

In January 2017 our joint bid for Volgograd Stadium was awarded, a combination of hybrid pitch expertise and local construction knowledge paying dividend. Deliverables for this contract included:

  • Installation of a gravel carpet suspended water table pitch construction.
  • Incorporation of subair ventilation and subgrade drainage system.
  • Pitch undersoil heating system.
  • Pitch irrigation system.
  • Stitched hybrid reinforcement.
  • Synthetic lighting solution.
  • Accompanying surrounds drainage, infrastructure and conduits and synthetic surfaces.

A review process was undertaken for the above supply requirements and Sports Technology selected the following project delivery supply chain for Volgograd:

  • DESSO Grassmaster reinforcement systems
  • SGL lighting systems
  • Sub-air ventilation system
  • Oleg Bow and Rehau undersoil heating system and pipe works.

Undersoil heating system.

Just as important as the commercial supply chains are the construction materials. As a country without an established sports turf industry and vast geographical spread, the supply of manufactured graded material doesn’t exist. European Turfgrass Laboratories (ETL) undertook detailed Material testing trials.

Example of the rootzone material options reviewed including mixtures.

Onsite rootzone mixing plant for sands and peat.

Russia is subject to a series of industry standards and norms with rigid approvals process. PSD produced a series of outline design drawing for conversion to Russian industry norms.

(Drawings produced for pitch levels and subair/subgrade drainage combined)

Proposed pitch profile – Hybrid Grass System.

On approval PSD and Sport Technology commenced planning for the installation of the pitch at Volgograd, this was first of a number of enjoyable trips to Russia, although not without there challenges.


Pitch Installation Timeline

Sports Technology were delayed entering the site by around two weeks to facilitate completion of the stadia roof installation. Despite this the pitch was delivered and seeded within the critical path. This was imperative to allow as much time as feasible, to establish sufficiently strong turf cover through winter to maximise winter turf survival during the prevailing -10 0C temperature.

Gravel carpet and heating pipe installation

Spreading rootzone over heating pipes.

Key stage progress chart.

Initial grow-in achieved prior to shutting down heating in December 2017.

Spring Over-seeding and Recovery

The possibility of turf cover loss through winter was always a potential risk for most venues in Russia. Volgograd didn’t escape this but compared to other venues turf cover loss through winter was only sporadic across the pitch. Light Winter-Kill was accompanied by one of the country’s coldest February and March months. This left the seemingly impossible task of recovering turf cover through February and March for warm up fixtures in April.

England V’s Tunisia Preparation.

Near full turf cover achieved in arch and two positive test matches and domestic cup final hosted the focus turned to fine tuning the pitch quality. PSD and Sports Technology entered into periodic testing programme covering both surface performance characteristics and agronomic trends.

Ongoing maintenance operations to facilitate fine tuning of the pitch.

Meaningful and Lasting Russian Football Legacy

The focus of any World Cup is to provide the host country with a lasting and meaningful legacy which helps the country take on and improve the sport of football after the World Cup.

The obvious legacies are the stadia and training pitches that are built within the host country. However, the more subtle and meaningful legacies are the skills and knowledge to continue building world class pitches without being dependent on foreign expertise.

In Russia the sports turf industry is alive and well but is still developing, Sports Technology of Russia are now a World Class pitch builder and our companies now have a lasting and meaningful relationship.

Charles Henderson

Managing Director – PSD – Follow Labosport on Linkedin