What is a proof roll?

A proof roll (also known as a ‘test roll’) involves testing the subgrade and/or subsequent unbound pavement layers (I.e., crushed rock) of your Field of Play project, to check how well the layer has been prepared and compacted. It ensures a solid foundation for your Field of Play and is an essential step of the quality control through the construction phase.

Technically, the use of a specific weighted equipment (12t static smooth roller, loaded pneumatic tyre truck, etc.) is needed to slowly drive up and down the prepared surface, checking for any deflection.

These deflections indicate weak areas or soft spots in the prepared layer, that may fail during the design life of the pavement.

Want to know more? Check out our blog post about what exactly is a proof roll and why do we do it here.

What are the key steps to a successful Field of Play design?

The following are key steps to delivering a successful Field of Play design:

  • Clear understanding of Clients scope of works and expectations.

  • Know the who and what level of competition the facility will be used for.

  • Know the geological history of the site (I.e. has the site been previously used as a landfill).

  • Obtain geotechnical and environmental data specifically in the area of the site.

  • Obtain a level and feature survey which extends beyond the Field of Play boundary.

  • Obtain information on existing in-ground and above ground services.

  • Confirm stormwater legal point of discharge.

  • Identify if the site is susceptible to inundation from flood waters or overland flow.

  • Obtain knowledge of constraints from local authorities i.e. water, power, communication, gas.

  • Identify any cultural or environmental overlays which may impact the proposed development.

  • Producing sustainable and cost-effective designs.

Why do we need Civil Engineering knowledge/experience to design a Field of Play?

The foundations of a well-designed Field of Play should be based on Civil Engineering principles. Earthworks, stormwater drainage and concrete works are all fundamental components of most Fields of Play and are core competencies of Civil Engineering. Civil Engineering technical skills and knowledge should reduce the overall risk of the project and help to raise the quality of the final product.

The Civil Engineering then works hand-in-glove with other design services such as lighting, irrigation and agronomy to deliver a fully co-ordinated outcome.

What is a condition assessment?

A condition assessment is a thorough technical evaluation of an asset. A Field of Play condition assessment is usually undertaken on an existing facility to:

  1. Evaluate whether the Field of Play complies with the relevant sport governing body requirements (I.e. surface levels, dimensions, surface traction, etc.).

  2. Identify cause for significant issues such as pavement failure, etc.

  3. Determine whether current maintenance practices are suitable for the asset and the expected level of use.

  4. Identify the age of an asset to help plan for future redevelopment works.

The assessment should provide sufficient information relating to the condition of the asset being assessed and be tailored to suit the intended reason as to why the assessment was carried out in the first place. A detailed assessment should consist of a visual assessment undertaken by a suitably qualified professional and, depending on the extent of the assessment, detailed investigation consisting of level survey, geotechnical investigation, sample retrieval, etc.

Why do we need to undertake a condition assessment?

The reliable and objective knowledge brought by condition assessments will allow us to design and develop appropriate solutions and action for maintenance, replacements, refurbishments and/or investment of a sport facility.

Failing to undertake condition assessments could lead to unnecessary exposure to various risks associated with deteriorated facilities. It could also trigger premature asset failures, a downgrade of service delivery capacity and quality, as well as higher repair and maintenance costs.

What is a Master plan and why is it required?

A master plan helps to define the scope of works for the proposed Field of Play project development. It is often developed as a long-term planning document that provides design intent for the development of a proposed site.

Do we need to have a site inspection before we commence?

When undertaking a sport project, planning a site inspection is essential to its success. The main purpose of a site inspection is to provide the client with objective and independent information about the overall condition of the sport Field of Play.

It should be included in the initial planning phase by a qualified Engineer to evaluate the suitability of a site for development and identify any potential constraints or risks.

A visual assessment should include inspection of the following:

  • Terrain gradient (slope of the land) – Is the terrain suitable for the proposed Field of Play?

  • Drainage Point of Discharge – Is there an available stormwater drainage outlet?

  • In-ground services - Are there in-ground services (i.e. gas, sewer, water, etc.) which will impact the proposed works?

  • Overhead services – Are overhead lines present that could impact the proposed works?

  • Trees and vegetation – Are vegetation present that require clearing for the development of the facility?

Developing a sport facility is a crucial investment; knowing the true condition of the Field of Play will enable you to determine the true cost of designing and building it, as well as fixing minor problems before they become major ones.

Why are Witness Inspections and Hold Point reviews so important for a project?

Witness Inspections and Hold Point document reviews are critical elements of a project Quality Assurance plan. Witness Inspections are nominated inspections where the Contractor is required to notify the client/client representatives to have the works visually inspected to ensure compliance with the design documentation. Once inspected and verified works can then commence.

A Hold Point review requires the Contractor to submit documentation to validate construction activities that cannot be confirmed via a visual inspection. This Hold Point documentation could be material data sheets for material to be imported, compaction test results or as-built survey information.

Both Witness Inspections and Hold Point document reviews are included throughout the process to ensure a high quality of construction works is undertaken.

What makes for an efficient irrigation system for a Field of Play?

Ultimately, a well-designed irrigation system uniformly applies the irrigation water across the whole playing surface.

Different factors can make for an efficient irrigation system for a Field of Play: 

  • The evenness of water application across the surface, coupled with smart hydro-zoning to target high surface wear areas,

  • An advanced scheduling to apply the water as the turf requires it, 

  • A sustainable energy outputs to minimise ongoing costs and the impact on the environment.

What is a surface flood test?

A flood test is completed on an impermeable pavement surface to ensure the surface does not contain any low points which hold water. The test consists of flooding the test area with clean water from the highest point/side of the pavement and identifying any areas which hold surface water. Typical duration for test is 20 minutes. All low points are to be addressed prior to the application of the overlying surface (I.e. rubberised product, acrylic, etc.).

How can sustainability be incorporated in Field of Play design?

There are many ways sustainability can be incorporated into the design of Fields of Play:

  • Re-use site won materials: if suitable, disused pavements can be re-used in the subbase layer of pavement to minimise the imported material and reduce waste being disposed off-site.

  • Source local products: where applicable, locally sourced materials can reduce on transportation which reduces carbon emissions.

  • Specify low carbon intense products: investigate alternatives to traditional materials which do not reduce the performance and durability of the final construction but are low in embodied carbon.

  • Efficient irrigation system: an irrigation system that has been designed specifically for the site should have high uniformity which helps to reduce over-irrigation.

  • Embrace technology: where appropriate, embrace new technologies that provide a positive environmental outcome.

  • Consider cradle-to-cradle: Consider the circular economy for all materials and products and where possible incorporate ones that have a cradle-to-cradle life cycle (I.e. can be reused at the end of its design life).

Discover more about environmental friendly design practices and products implemented for new Field of Play facilities in our webinar

Where does agronomy fit within sports field design?

In sport science, agronomy designates the study of soil management and crop production. It incorporates a variety of sciences, such as biology, chemistry, ecology, earth science and targets optimum productivity and quality of a sport Field of Play surface.

It’s essential to include agronomy thinking in a sport field design from the very beginning. It ensures a proper soil conversion and controls the impact of a new facility on its environment. Agronomy will help identify the grass species on site and manage it so it can best answer to your needs, such as better strength or aesthetics.

What are the governing guidelines that we need to consider in our design to ensure compliance?

Each sport has a governing body that produces facility guidelines (I.e. FIFA, AFL, Cricket Australia, etc.) that are specific to the needs of their sport. These guidelines help to define the requirements for the corresponding Field of Play. Often these guidelines will confirm:

  • Field of Play dimensions (including run-offs)

  • Surface gradient requirements

  • Surface performance requirements

  • Equipment requirements

  • Supporting infrastructure needs (I.e. light lux levels, fencing, etc.)

Some guidelines have more flexibility than others. An AFL and cricket oval has a range of sizes whereas a tennis court or athletics track are much more rigid on adherence to set dimensions.