Manly Sea Eagles
Natural Turf | Rugby
SPORTENG provided design, documentation and quality assurance during the construction of a perched water table profile for an NRL standard natural turf surface as part of the construction of the 3,000-seat Bob Fulton Stand at the Brookvale Oval, which is now officially known as 4 Pines Park.
This elite sports and leisure development is a great asset for the Manly Sea Eagles and the wider Northern Beaches Community.
Due to the complexity of multiple points of water supply and metering to the site, SPORTENG worked with the council and the local water authority to identify the most appropriate supply channel. A temporary connection was established during construction to the north of the pitch to provide water for construction and irrigation.
SPORTENG then worked with the contractor to establish a permanent feed for the overall development and continued use of irrigation for the Field of Play.
Brookvale Oval is one of only a handful of stadiums that are classified as public open spaces; therefore, the intensity of use is needed to consider the volume of both club and community use. During SPORTENG’s quarterly independent condition assessments for the Manly Sea Eagles, it was observed that the goal mouths were experiencing additional wear, and therefore, the coverage of turf had been affected.
In response SPORTENG consulted with the Sea Eagles and maintenance contractor to recommend minor adjustments were made to the maintenance regime to compensate for this use.
Another common challenge for many venues is allocating adequate downtime for the maintenance crew to undertake regular maintenance, however more importantly annual or biannual cultural renovations which is similar to a players or team pre-season training, prepares the turf and its growing environment for the rigors of the season ahead. It is not uncommon for maintenance windows to be insufficient due to conflicting schedules, however the risk of poor performing turf increases exponentially along with each cultural practice being deferred or cancelled.
The SPORTENG Agronomy Team engaged Club management and the maintenance contractor to achieve an outcome where both cultural practices could be completed with sufficient time prior to home match fixtures commencing.
The components of the field of play chosen to play a vital role in accommodating pre-season use and in-season training, along with in-season matches and finals, without the creation of a significant risk of field failure.
A 300mm sand profile with a sub-surface drainage network connecting to the existing venue perimeter drainage network ensures that even under extreme rainfall conditions, the field has the ability to cope with conditions without losing condition or playability.
As part of the turf handover process, Northern Beaches Council and the Manly Sea Eagles required SPORTENG to develop, implement and monitor a tailored turf management plan.
At the completion of construction, Evergreen Turf engaged SPORTENG Agronomists John Neylan and Amy Dingle to perform a series of agronomic tests to demonstrate that the field had been constructed in line with the design and performed at the levels required for both community and National Rugby League use.
SPORTENG Turf Agronomist Amy Dingle performing turf maintenance checking at Brookvale Oval
SPORTENG’s agronomy team was tasked with monitoring the field of play during its first year and a half of operation.
Reporting directly to the Manly Sea Eagles, the independent testing provided valuable insights into the establishment of the field from both an agronomic but also playability perspective, with each round of testing paired with reporting and consultation, which was aimed at understanding the overall performance of the field and what could be done to improve the turf condition and playability. An example included identifying the advertising LED screens covering irrigation sprinklers, which would reduce the water application to the turf in those zones.
SPORTENG’s turfgrass agronomist was also able to collect soil for nutrient sampling and use results to advise the club on the provision of maintenance based on scientific evidence. This resulted in the club being able to provide specific directions to the maintenance contractor to adjust the upcoming nutrition applications.
Designed to NRL standards, and available for public use, the Brookvale Oval also hosts rugby league, union and soccer matches, including games for the NSW Waratahs and Central Coast Mariners.
The high-quality turf surface provides an elite field of play suitable for many purposes and year-round use.
Adam Catchpole, Chief Operating Officer of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, gave SPORTENG this feedback on the performance of the surface:
"The pitch was great in 2023, and our new maintenance team has really got the best out of it after taking over in March 2023. It performed well right through the year, unlike 2022, where it faded towards the end of the season. Players and coaching staff were delighted with it. It has had a good spring renovation period, and the team was back training on it in mid-December. The pitch is looking in good condition for the year ahead."