In mid-2009, the MCC installed an arena lighting system at the MCG, designed to improve turf growth during the winter months.Since the completion of the new northern stand, the MCC has been faced with a lack of light and sun on the turf on the northern side of the stadium. During winter, only 10% of natural sunlight reaches this area of the ground.
As a result, the MCC procured a product called Stadium Grow Lighting, a mobile supplementary lighting unit produced by Netherlands-based company SGL Concept and used around the world.
The shipment, comprising 11 lighting rigs each measuring 12m x 2.5m x 2.5m and two smaller rigs, arrived from the Netherlands on May 4 and was operational a fortnight later.
The $2 million system will be used as required throughout each football season, from early-April until the end of September.
“The lighting rigs are placed above the grass to provide light and heat, which stimulates turf growth,” says Tony Ware, MCC executive manager environment and turf development.
“This will enable us to achieve year-round quality turf in all weather conditions, and ensures that the MCG remains at the forefront of stadium management.”
Similar systems have been adopted at numerous venues around the world, including Emirates Stadium, Twickenham Stadium and Wembley Stadium in London, Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and Melbourne-based Etihad Stadium.
The redeveloped northern grandstand has presented new challenges to arenas operations manager Cameron Hodgkins and his ground staff.
The roof on the new stand has reduced the amount of natural sunlight available. This leads to lack of growth on a patch of turf that, during the AFL season, is an area of high traffic around the interchange benches and changerooms. The new system will reduce the amount of turf replacement required.
It is estimated that the use of the lights will add approximately five percent to the MCG’s energy consumption levels. However, this will be offset by a number of energy-saving initiatives being implemented throughout the stadium.