The eyes of the rugby world are now on Saracens who have become the first professional Rugby Union club in the world to play on an artificial pitch at their new home stadium earlier this year. Saracens Rugby Club recently transformed Barnet Copthall athletics stadium in north London into the Allianz Stadium, a rejuvenated multi-purpose community sports, athletics and rugby stadium.
The new artificial pitch was given a ‘soft’ opening in January when Saracens beat the Cardiff Blues 19-11 in the LV Cup. The full opening game on 16 February saw Saracens defeat Exeter Chiefs 31-11 in the stadium’s first Premiership match in front of a 10,000 capacity crowd. The stadium also remains home to elite and community athletics, for both the Barnet Shaftesbury Harriers and Barnet & District Athletics Club, and for schools and community sports training. The stadium is designed and built to BREEAM excellent standards, and is also a conference and events facility, marketed as ‘Allianz Park’.
Reports of the condition of the new pitch have been positive. The new pitch should remain in better condition and requires less maintenance than grass, while not compromising playing conditions. The Six Nations might take note after several recent matches experienced problems with turf in wet conditions.
Nicholas Pearson Associates were pleased to assist this redevelopment project by undertaking the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), landscape and visual, and ecological work for the redevelopment of the stadium, which included ‘greening’ parts of the site to reduce the built footprint of the proposals. Located in London’s Green Belt, the proposals required careful design, assessment and very special circumstances to be proven, before planning permission was granted in 2012.
BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk