Innovative Turf Care for the 2024 European Championship in the Veltins Arena

In June this year, the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen faced the challenge of hosting four European Championship games and eight training sessions in just 14 days. The teams that aimed to excel in Gelsenkirchen were England, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Serbia, Georgia and Slovakia. Benefitting from modern technology, the grass team delivered a perfect pitch. 

UEFA requirements for the tournament field meant an extra challenge for the grass team in Gelsenkirchen. Normally, the turf is stored and maintained outside the stadium bowl, where it has maximum benefit from natural sunlight, oxygen and rain conditions. Only a day before the game, the field is moved inside the stadium bowl.  

However, for the European Championships, UEFA wanted it to remain inside the stadium for 20 days straight. To ensure the field would be able to cope, the grass team used innovative methods to maintain the turf at UEFA quality, despite the lack of natural light.

CLS  (Complete Light Spectrum) grass grow technology was used to condition the turf and to make it more resilient in the four weeks prior to the game. In 2021, the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen had a world first when it was fitted with state-of-the-art CLS  grass grow technology that helps maintain the pitch with pinpoint accuracy. 

Shortly before the turf was brought in, it was treated with phytohormones to promote regenerative branching of the grass.

Precise care

During the tournament itself, temperature, humidity and irrigation were precisely balanced to minimise stress in the grass. With the help of UV-C light, the germination rate of the grass was reduced while the occurrence of diseases was prevented. 

The condition of the turf was measured daily, and data collected was plotted on a map to provide the grass team with a digital picture of the field condition. This precise monitoring allowed for dedicated care in areas that required additional attention. 

This combination of innovation, digitalisation and careful preparation helped the dedicated grass team to show that it is possible to deliver a first-class European Championship turf pitch even under the most difficult conditions.