Grass at National Stadium pitch is finally greener, after $1.5m lighting system installed

To stimulate the growth of its rye and blue grass seeds, the Singapore Sports Hub has installed $1.5 million worth of special lighting equipment. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
To stimulate the growth of its rye and blue grass seeds, the Singapore Sports Hub has installed $1.5 million worth of special lighting equipment. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Workers tending to the pitch at the National Stadium.  -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE
Workers tending to the pitch at the National Stadium.  -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE
A sign saying "Please keep off the grass" on the pitch at the new National Stadium on Oct 13, 2014. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE
A sign saying "Please keep off the grass" on the pitch at the new National Stadium on Oct 13, 2014. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE
The state of the National Stadium pitch has been the subject of much debate. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE
The state of the National Stadium pitch has been the subject of much debate. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE
The money poured into reviving the field at the National Stadium has been paid off - the previously sandy ground now looks like an emerald carpet. -- PHOTO: ZAINUDIN NORDIN/FACEBOOK
The money poured into reviving the field at the National Stadium has been paid off - the previously sandy ground now looks like an emerald carpet. -- PHOTO: ZAINUDIN NORDIN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The money poured into reviving the field at the National Stadium has paid off - the previously sandy ground now looks like an emerald carpet.

President of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Zainudin Nordin was at the stadium to inspect the turf on Friday. He posted a photograph of the field and wrote on Facebook: "We observed the very good progress made on the 'young' pitch. There will definitely be further improvements before the start of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2014."

The sorry state of the field first came to light in October, after the FAS declared the hybrid surface comprising natural grass woven with synthetic fibres "far short of the expected international playing standards".

Comments from FAS came after the Asean Football Federation (AFF) and Sport Singapore, a statutory board of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, expressed concerns about the venue being fit to host the AFF Suzuki Cup that will start on Nov 23.

"I am confident that with all the hard work and efforts put in by key stakeholders like the SportsHub, SportSG, AFF and FAS, we will have a good tournament for fans and supporters," Mr Zainudin added.

The pitch previously received criticism for being too patchy and sandy. To stimulate the growth of its rye and blue grass seeds, $1.5 million worth of special lighting equipment has been installed. The lights, hovering slightly over a metre above ground, are kept on through the night to act like sunlight.

Singapore Sports Hub chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik also said that "substantial costs" had to be absorbed, as events had to be rescheduled to give the grass breathing space and urgent repairs were made to remedy the surface.

For instance, refunds were given out after Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou's concert was postponed from Nov 8 to Dec 27, while the Maori All Blacks' rugby friendly against the Asia Pacific Dragons on Nov 15 was cancelled after almost 5,000 tickets were sold.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg