Natural Turf | AFL | Cricket
Proposals for the new stadium were first tabled as early as 2003 with the Burswood Golf Course location selected in 2011 by the State Government. The site was not without complications; it was a reclaimed flood plain and had previously been a municipal waste dump for Perth, taking domestic and industrial landfills until 1971.
A consortium led by Bookfield Multiplex completed the works and working with the design team, SPORTENG staff undertook the Field of Play detailed design and documentation. The new stadium was to be a primarily oval sports venue (AFL and cricket) although the stadium design would permit reconfiguration for rectangular sports.
The principal challenge for the Field of Play was the subgrade conditions. The stadium was built over dredging from the adjacent Swan River known as Swan River Alluvium (SRA). The material is viscous by nature and susceptible to horizontal and vertical ground movement.
During the design phase, it was predicted by the geotechnical engineer for the project to potentially settle in excess of 50mm over 20 years.
To improve the subgrade conditions and limit the likelihood of future movement, the site was pre-loaded to help remove the instantaneous settlement to reduce the risk of future settlements.
However, the stadium arena was still likely to be exposed to vertical ground movement over a long period of time, so the SPORTENG design for the natural turf playing surface allowed for the predicted ground movement. This included flexible subsurface infrastructure, limiting trenching, and building redundancies into the design to accommodate future settlement.
Drop-in wickets were identified early as the preferred design option for the cricket wickets for the main arena. SPORTENG worked with the head contractor and State representatives to develop a prototype drop-in wicket. Once established, the prototype was trialed over 5 days by the State cricket team and at the end of the trial the feedback and test results were positive, and the prototype design was endorsed.
The playing surface profile consists of a perched water table with a proprietary profile reinforcement product in the upper rootzone sand layer. The constructed turf surface is flat which is common for elite sport use. The use of the reinforced profile improves the load-bearing capacity of the Field of Play and also enables efficient turf replacement
In 2019, Optus Stadium was voted the World’s Best Looking Stadium, while in 2020 Australian’s voted Optus Stadium as the best venue in the country. We like to think that without a world-class Field of Play neither of these awards would have been possible.
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