Bankwest Boosted by $1 Million Australia-first Underground Technology

A million-dollar underground drainage system which can suck water out of the field - the first of its kind to be used in Australia - will ensure Bankwest Stadium will be playable even after the worst deluges.

Using a small suction fan only about a metre in diameter, Bankwest Stadium's playing surface is expected to be the best in the country thanks to revolutionary technology which can add and remove water from the ground.

The concept, likened to that of a reverse-cycle air conditioner, is modelled on those used at a number of European golf courses in order to dry fairways and greens for play to continue after severe downpours.

While a fast track is expected for Bankwest Stadium's opening on Easter Monday when the Eels and Tigers clash in front of a sellout crowd, the $1.2 million technology will allow the grass to grow in spite of the harsh climate Australia can experience.

"It gives us the ability to control the moisture level in the profile through a heavy deluge, but it also gives us the ability to push air through the profile as well," Bankwest Stadium head curator Graeme Logan said.

"It almost works like a reverse-cycle air conditioner in that you can push moisture into the profile and also remove it. In a huge deluge of rain - say if you got 60mm or 70mm - you can pull the moisture out of the surface and have it back in playing condition within 20 to 25 minutes.

"Because it's an enclosed stadium air flow is very important for us growing turf. This will do an amazing job for us underneath [the surface]."

The turf which will be used at Bankwest Stadium was grown in western Sydney for more than a year and will be forced to cater for NRL matches hosted by the Eels, Tigers and Bulldogs as well as Super Rugby and A-League fixtures.

Logan said the depth of the Bankwest Stadium profile was just 300mm and the surface was expected to be first class given the SCG's struggles in recent months catering for a variety of codes as Allianz Stadium is razed.

"It's sand based with synthetic reinforced turf on the top," Logan said. "That helps with the stability. It will never tear up like the grounds that don't have that reinforcement, which can become quite savage. Our ground will hold together really well.

"The bar has been raised a lot in terms of what players and the public expects of the major grounds. They're going to throw a lot at us in the first year, but we're confident we've got the right strategies in place."

The Waratahs will play the Sharks in Super Rugby just five days after the Eels-Tigers blockbuster with the Western Sydney Wanderers to host the touring Leeds United in the first soccer match at the ground in July.

Logan, one of the most respected turf doctors in the industry and the current vice-president of the Sports Turf Association of Australia, will come full circle in his return to Bankwest Stadium.

He was the head curator for the opening of the old Parramatta Stadium in 1986 and juggled both that role and that of the ANZ Stadium groundsman either side of the Olympic Games in 2000.

But having switched to ANZ Stadium full-time in 2002, Logan is back working on Bankwest Stadium years after running out onto Parramatta Stadium as a second-rower for rugby union's Parramatta Two Blues.

"I thought Parramatta was a job for life but I chose to go to ANZ and now we've come full circle and we're back there again," Logan said.

Bankwest Stadium boasts the steepest grandstands in the country and is expected to take on more NRL matches next season as the Rabbitohs and Bulldogs seek clarity from the state government over its plans for the redevelopmentof ANZ Stadium.

The Olympic Park base will host concerts until February next year at this stage.

A spokesman for Venues NSW, the government agency that oversees ANZ Stadium, said: "The NSW government is doing its homework in preparing a robust business case on the redevelopment of ANZ Stadium and the final business case will be considered by government in coming months.

"The construction timeline will be clearer once the final business case has been considered. As Venues NSW works with Infrastructure NSW to complete the final business case, ANZ Stadium continues to focus on opportunities to maximise the commercial operations of the venue."

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