Games Damage Means Olympic Hockey Pitch Removed For Good
Friday 23rd November 2012
LBC 97.3 understands the iconic blue and pink London 2012 Hockey pitch is so damaged its not suitable for the European Championships being held on the Olympic Park in 2015.
The so called 'smurf turf' is being taken up today and taken to Sheffield instead.
We're told two new pitches will now have to be laid at the new Hockey Centre at Eton Manor - at what's thought to be at an extra cost of half a million pounds.
"Right at the start LOCOG were saying they wanted a surface, a system even, that could be lifted and re-located after the Olympics was over. Unfortunately what they chose was a surface that would do the job for the Games but not good enough to be re-laid at a hockey venue of any note," Bryn Lee told LBC 97.3 who runs his own consultancy, BLC-Sports, focusing on synthetic turf.
He says London 2012 organisers went for a short term option. "The surface chosen wasn't the latest more durable type of surface. It's not a good investment, its probably got 1 or 2 years live left in it. Which is very short from the 10 years plus that you get out of a more modern surface."
The blue artificial turf with its brilliant pink surround was one of the stand-out images of the London 2012 Olympic Park in Stratford and it will now make the 163 mile journey north from the Riverbank Arena to its new home at Abbeydale Sports Club and installed by the Spring. The search for a new home for Olympic pitch began shortly after the Games with over 40 applications submitted by providers in a position to install a specialist hockey surface. The Sainsbury's 2013 School Games will be the first major event to be hosted on it.
LOCOG have admitted to to some 'wear and tear' but a London 2012 spokesman told LBC "it was always the plan to put down 2 new pitches at the new Hockey Centre at Eton Manor as this was budgeted for. And we are also delighted that part of the Olympic Games legacy will now be in Sheffield."
Seb Coe, LOCOG Chair said: "We always intended to re-use as much as we could of our Games facilities and equipment. This is an example of the legacy of London 2012. We were delighted to donate the famous blue pitch and its pink surround to such a good new home at the Abbeydale Sports Club. The pitch will be used by both the local community and elite hockey players as well as for the School Games. It will also give the Club a piece of Olympic history."
The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority - which will run the Hockey Centre at Eton Manor - told LBC 97.3 "Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre will still be a world class centre, benefiting from two new hockey pitches and offering one of the finest hockey facilities in the country for elite athletes to grassroots clubs. We were the first London 2012 venue on the Olympic Park to secure a major tournament - the 2015 EuroHockey Championships."