The magazine of sports turf professionals.

I will tell you a little about how I found myself being part of the renovation of a most important field in recent times such as the Club Atlético River Plate.

Greenkeeper

I am 47 years old, since I was 9 I played golf and at 20 I became a professional with the intention of competing and making a living as a golfer. The harsh reality prompted me to give golf lessons to survive and in a short time I had the possibility of designing and building a small par 3 course within a real estate development, which was successfully completed in 2 years. Those were my first steps in the lawn industry.

Already working as Greenkeeper of that field, I learned the art of maintenance from the hand of numerous courses and support from the Argentine Golf Association.

Soon after, I started working as a Greenkeeper for another nearby 9-hole course. Both courses are low budget so you had to be creative to solve all the issues.

In a short time I started to develop a small gardening company (to be called Greenkeeper Argentina) and I decided to study for a Superior Technician in Landscaping, although sports grass was always my passion.

Already with some years of experience in small golf courses I began to work in the maintenance of amateur soccer fields with good results.

In 2008 the possibility arose of taking the maintenance contract for the Unique Stadium of La Plata, which at that time had a conventional natural playing field.

To face this project, I put together a work team together with an agronomist and a company that would provide the machinery and we were able to carry out the two-year contract successfully.

In 2011 I acquired my first new aerator with which I provided services in 24 fields that would be used for the 2011 Copa América Argentina.

In 2012 I started working for the Club Atlético Independiente de Avellaneda as responsible for the playing fields and by that time I had already bought some machinery to provide services in different clubs.

In 2015 I was summoned to be part of a group of 4 Turf Masters that would carry out the management of the 8 FIFA U-17 WORLD CUP CHILE 2015 venues for which I traveled to the cities of Concepción and Chillan to have a great FIFA experience.

From 2016 to 2018 I also worked as an agronomic consultant for the Club Atlético Tucumán, in northern Argentina where last year its arch rival, the Club Atlético San Martin, also joined.

After finishing my cycles in the 3 clubs, I decided to take a study trip, which would give me another vision, so I undertook a trip to Portugal where I did the first soccer field maintenance course (dictated by the CENEC of> Jorge Palma) with the support of the important Portuguese company in the field.

Taking advantage of the proximity, I was able to visit the facilities of Real Madrid (stadium and sports city) and FC Barcelona as well as several stadiums and training centers in Portugal. On a whirlwind trip to France we also visited with Jorge the Augusto Bonal stadium and FC Sochaux training center.

At the end of the 45-day intensive course, this company adds me to its field construction team where I participate in the works of 2 new fields in Vitoria de Guimarães and later in the renovation of the Pucela del Real Valladolid pitch when it amounts to The League where I meet Antonio Blanco (Antoko).

APRIL 2019 THE RIVER CHALLENGE BEGINS

After finishing my study and work journey in Europe, I return to Buenos Aires and a few months later I begin a new challenge in River Plate where I am called to take the pitch from April 2019.

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Photo of the field before its renovation with the famous athletics tracks

STADIUM HISTORY

It is owned by the Club Atlético River Plate and was inaugurated on May 26, 1938 by the then president, Antonio Vespucio Liberti, who also decided to build it; hence its name.

It was built on land reclaimed from the muddy coast of the Río de la Plata. The task of filling in the baths was done by a Scotsman named Daniel White, who in the mid-nineteenth century had acquired a 47-block farm in that area.

For the renovation of the field prior to the 1978 World Cup, they announced that it would drop 65cm, the construction of a drainage system that would replace the current layer of stones and absorbent bricks and a new irrigation system that would irrigate from the sides towards center. (1977)

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Aerial photo of the stadium

 

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Photo renovation before the 1978 Argentine World Cup

AtleticoRiverPlate5AtleticoRiverPlate5The Monumental stadium since then traditionally the venue where the national team plays most of its home matches.
The current capacity of the stadium is 70,074 spectators, after the renovations carried out in 2019.

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1978 world cup photo

It was also the venue for the most important musical events for decades, which generated important complications for the maintenance of the field.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OLD PLAYING TERRAIN

This old field was built in 1977 with technologies of the time.

  • TYPE OF GRASS: Common Bermuda contaminated with other Bermuda biotypes not determined
  • TOP SOIL: Natural soil (clay) with sand contributions throughout the years.
  • DRAINAGE SYSTEM: 4 waters herringbone with cement pipes about 60cm deep and gravel. The pipes discharged into the perimeter pit and from there it was pumped out of the stadium.
  • LEVELING: 4 waters with slopes from 0.8 to 1%
  • IRRIGATION SYSTEM: He had several that were updated, but the last one had a total of 30 Toro TS90 rotors, 24 for the field and 6 more to irrigate the headlands behind the arches with a 25hp submersible pump.
  • CUTTING MACHINERY: Toro Reelmaster 3100 with collector drawers.

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Old plane drainage system

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There are no traces of water circulation inside the pipes

A huge Monumental stadium, a club with a lot of history and an old and difficult playing field.

Although it was a field that I had known since 2015 where every year I was summoned to do seasonal renovation work or different services, I did not fully know its agronomic history.

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Different types of C4 grass within the field generated different colors and textures in summer.

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The last infiltration measurement was alarming, it did not exceed 25mm / h despite the continuous aerations that we carried out.

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Big grass growth problems caused by black layer.

Having taken note of all these inconveniences, raise the corresponding reports since in the event of an adverse weather event the field would not be in good condition.

The club already knew that it needed a renovation of the field but a work of these characteristics left the team without localia for a minimum of 4 to 5 months.

During the summer the club began to evaluate the renovation work on the field (with no idea that there was going to be a pandemic) thinking about the possible dates from November to the end of January, it was a fair window of 90 days that could be extended by 15 more days.

The arrival of the pandemic at the end of March 2020, like everyone else, dislodged us, generated uncertainties of all kinds.

Regarding the field management, last week we installed a remote irrigation control and we saw the field through a camera.

Without being able to circulate for a few weeks we were able to keep it in good condition until we returned to work under strict sanitary protocols.

The advance of the pandemic generated the window of time necessary without an audience to carry out the renovation work and the club took advantage of it.

We began with work meetings, many virtual where the type of work, work times, possible specialized construction companies, resolution of problems with high napas, etc. were evaluated, until the decision was made to move forward.

THE WORK

The work was not only going to be the renovation of the playing field, but within the comprehensive master project there was expansion of low stands on what was the athletics track with the idea of ​​bringing the public closer to the players and adding more than 10,000 locations.

A working group was formed led by the club's infrastructure president, the area manager, project manager, and myself to resolve the situations that arose and the definition of the project.

Regarding my specific area of ​​the playing field, I participated as coordinator / supervisor of the work that was being carried out.

NEW GRANDS / LOWER GRADERIES

In order to build new low stands in the future and for this project to fit in with the levels of the new field, it had to lower its elevation by 1.80m, so it would be very close to the natural water tables.

This problem led to the realization of a feasibility study entrusted to an engineering study. It was determined that in order to guarantee that the field did not have the possibility of flooding with the waters, a drainage system for the waters should be built under the future new playing field. This additional project deepened the excavation to 3 meters deep from the level of the old lawn.

We can say that this was the floor of the work.

GUIDELINES FOR THE CHOICE OF THE NEW FIELD

  • The executing company should have a recognized track record in modern field construction.
  • The new field was to be built in no more than 5 months.
  • It should be state of the art with the highest standards of today con a perfect planimetry, which guarantees the safety of the players, aesthetics and playability under any weather condition.
  • It was defined that it should be a stitched hybrid system combined with base C4 and overseeding with C3 in winter.
  • It was decided to go for the maximum project that would include a drainage system with vaccum and air injection in the root zone as well as a top soil air conditioning system to give the grass the best growing conditions.

THE EXCAVATION

Excavation by a local company started on September 1, 2020 with 3 backhoe loaders and a dozen 4 x 8 trucks working at full speed. A total of 35,000m3 were extracted from the field.

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NAPAS DRAINAGE SYSTEM

Broadly speaking, this system consists of a 30cm layer of gravel and a network of 250mm grooved pipes, all between two layers of geotextile with a specific porosity that discharges by gravity in two chambers. It is calculated to drain any rise in the water table, calculated based on the worst historical levels.

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CONFORMATION OF THE SUB BASE OF THE FIELD ON THE NAPAS DRAINAGE SYSTEM

An average of 50cm of soil specially selected to be compacted on the drainage system of the napas was leveled according to the levels of the field project.

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THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE FIELD BEGINS

Once the work is delivered to the contractor company with all the requirements fulfilled as requested, the construction of the new field begins with the excavation of the drainage system.

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GRAVEL LAYER LEVELING

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OUTSIDE MATERIALS COLLECTION SECTOR

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THE SAND BEGINS TO ENTER

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LAST LAYER OF SAND WITH MUD

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BERMUDA CELEBRATION STOLON PLANTATION

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TERMINATION DETAILS IN CHAMBERS AND PERIMETER

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THE FIELD SEWING BEGINS

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EARLY PLANTING OF RYEGRASS

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PLACEMENT OF NEW ALUMINUM GOALS

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GAME PREPARATION DETAILS

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NEW FIELD DATA

  • INAUGURATION DATE: 2021/20/02
  • HYBRID GRASS SURFACE: 8.214m2 (111 x 74)
  • FIELD SIZES: FIFA 105 X 68
  • PERIMETER SYNTHETIC GRASS: 3 meters FIFA QUALITY PRO
  • GOALS: ALUMINUM ADJUSTABLE IN HEIGHT + 2 SPARE GOALS
  • IRRIGATION SYSTEM: RAINBIRD - 35 INDEPENDENT CONTROL 8005 STEEL ROTORS WITH VARIABLE SPEED PUMPS
  • DRAINAGE SYSTEM: SIS AIR
  • ROOT ZONE AIR CONDITIONING: SIS HEAT
  • TYPE OF GRASS: HYBRID SIS GRASS + BERMUDA CELEBRATION + LOLIUM PERENNE IN WINTER

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CLOSING

Personally, I feel very fortunate to have been part of this pharaonic and dizzying work since it was only 2 years that I was at the club and things were unleashed at the right time.

My infinite thanks to all those who have trusted in my ability to be part of this great team that is the Club's Infrastructure.

I enjoyed it very much, I learned a lot from all the experience, interacting with the work team, the construction company of the field and now in the middle of the maintenance stage I am still learning to handle the new creature.

In this difficult time, to say that I am working in a wonderful place and growing professionally where I feel that my opinion is heard from day one, is no small thing.

I know that experiences are not forever, I try to enjoy, learn and take another step, always with my eyes looking at what is done mostly in Europe, where other budgets are allocated for the fields and there is more development of technologies and experience.

I value each experience made so far since they all leave lessons.

Finally, I thank my two daughters who understand my passion, see me from here to there and accompany me whenever they can since they were little!