Fully indoor surface

A world's first took place recently when a fully indoor hybrid pitch was constructed for a high-profile football tournament.

Known as Season Cup, the event is Riyadh’s showpiece football tournament that featured Messi and Ronaldo, Organisers say the competition was made possible due to the hybrid pitch that was built in 21 days by SIS Pitches.
The competition forms part of the Riyadh Season, a festival featuring both live sport and entertainment in the capital, funded by the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund. All Season Cup games take place at the Kingdom Arena in front of 24,000 fans. During the competition, the stadium received two Guinness World Records. The first for being the largest covered football stadium; the second for having the largest seating capacity for an indoor covered stadium.
Setting the stage for the cup’s major fixtures, including Al Nassr vs. Inter Miami, was a major challenge say SIS Pitches. Construction and development of the indoor sports venue started in late 2023, giving the business a much shorter window to install and prepare a playing surface fit for top-level competition.
However, this short window was only one part of the challenge, says the company. SIS also had to ensure the natural turf grew strong enough to properly secure the small percentage of synthetic fibres stitched into the arena’s surface, as is standard for hybrid pitches of this type. This process was made harder by the arena’s fully indoor design, which has no windows or roof for sunlight to enter. The SIS team worked around this by using ultraviolet growing lights to prepare the pitch in time.
Sela, the developer responsible for the arena, requested a game-ready playing surface in just three weeks, much shorter than the typical window for a major development of this type. This aligned with the pace of construction for the wider stadium, which was completed in just 60 days.
Speed and resilience were key. SISGrass, the solution specified by SIS, merges natural turf with a small percentage of polymer yarn. This mixture is injected by the company’s patented electric stitching machine. SIS say their machine is capable of covering 1300m2 metres per day with a 90mm shallow stitch, making it suitable for quick installs.
David Ball, managing director at SIS Saudi said, “This project had an incredibly challenging timeline but our team was able to mobilise quickly, delivering a high-quality playing surface fit for arguably football’s two greatest ever players. We knew the arena was going to be used for other sports and entertainment, so the pitch had to be capable of accommodating short turnarounds between events."

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