Sports Hub sees light at the end of the National Stadium field saga

Special light sources are being used to help the grass on the National Stadium field grow. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Special light sources are being used to help the grass on the National Stadium field grow. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Groundsmen inspecting the grass at the National Stadium field out of the special light sources which help the grass grow. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Groundsmen inspecting the grass at the National Stadium field out of the special light sources which help the grass grow. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Sports Hub offers a critical update on the state of the National Stadium field ahead of the Suzuki Cup. After months of experimentation, Singapore Sports Hub officials believe they have hit on the right recipe to remedy the much-maligned field a
Sports Hub offers a critical update on the state of the National Stadium field ahead of the Suzuki Cup. After months of experimentation, Singapore Sports Hub officials believe they have hit on the right recipe to remedy the much-maligned field at the National Stadium. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - After months of experimentation, Singapore Sports Hub officials believe they have hit on the right recipe to remedy the much-maligned field at the National Stadium.

The venue's dome roof has been closed since the Brazil-Japan football friendly two weeks ago to mitigate the effects of irregular and insufficient sunlight as well as excessive humidity that led to the sandy and patchy surface.

Following a carefully-designed programme, special growth lights - which were recently purchased from the Netherlands for $1.5 million - have been switched on at four-hour intervals across the hybrid turf to act like sunlight through the night.

When The Straits Times visited the 55,000-seater facility on Friday morning, barren patches of sand which were a sore sight at past events were largely gone, replaced by thin blades of rye grass.

Besides roping in over 10 experts in the fields of fungicide, fertiliser and agronomy, groundsmen have also reduced the water temperature by 10 deg C when watering the pitch to stimulate the growth of rye, a cool weather grass.

The encouraging signs have brought some relief to officials ahead of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup opener between Singapore and Thailand on Nov 23.

Sports Hub chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik said: "The pitch is still a work in progress but we believe we're on the right path to fixing the issue. We took very hard but decisive action in clearing the schedule of concerts and other sporting events so that the field is in the best possible condition for the Suzuki Cup."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg