Historic: Bengaluru's M Chinnaswamy Stadium gets next-generation outfield to fight rain delays

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Bengaluru, Jan 4: The Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) has installed the next-generation subsurface aeration and vacuum-powered drainage system from SubAir, USA at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here making it the first ever installation of such a technology for cricket stadiums worldwide. The new system, which cost about Rs 4.25 crore, was unveiled today (January 4).

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KSCA's Vice President Sudhakar Rao said, "This is KSCA's latest project in our constant endeavour to introduce cutting edge technologies in the interest of the game and the fans. Everyone understands that when it rains, it is an act of God. But once it stops raining, it will be inexcusable to delay or cancel a game due to a wet outfield. With this high-tech solution from SubAir, fastest resumption of the game is now possible."

File photo: Bengaluru's M Chinnaswamy Stadium's most part of the ground is under covers after rain. With the latest drainage system, stoppage of play due to rain will be less.

The SubAir system automatically kicks into action the minute it starts raining, thereby not allowing any buildup of water on the outfield. It quickly removes standing water (36 times faster than drainage by gravity!) virtually eliminating the need for extended game delays or cancellations due to wet outfield conditions.

So in reality, it could rain at 2AM on the day of the match, yet, without any manual intervention, the suction system gets activated through signals from the remote sensors embedded in the field. Water begins to get evacuated at the rate of over 10,000 litres/minute, from the moment it begins to rain.

'Games saved'

As this can evacuate water faster than it can rain, the outfield is therefore ready for play within minutes of rain subsiding. This is a generational leap forward from when stadiums used to begin the water drainage or sopping operations after it has stopped raining.

Sanjay Desai, KSCA Vice president said, "Fan experience is our primary objective. Additionally, there is a risk of Rs. 80-100 crore (US$12-15 million) when a game gets washed out including losses to the paying public, the TV Broadcasters and advertisers, in-stadia advertisers etc. We believe we have addressed this challenge with the SubAir System".

Vinay Mruthyunjaya, Spokesperson, KSCA said, "This technology makes tremendous economic and financial sense for KSCA and many games will be saved in the future".

The SubAir Sport System also provides the curators at Chinnaswamy Stadium the ability to promote healthier, stronger, and safer turf. With its aeration function that operates round the clock, the SubAir System provides an optimal growing environment for the root zone, thereby minimizing turf diseases, algae, excessive thatch and black layer.

The aeration function also helps in reducing the surface temperature on the turf, making it more comfortable for the players.

1,000 truckloads of soil

Hyderabad-based Great Sports Infra, South Asia's leading provider of turnkey solutions for sports infrastructure and also the exclusive licensee of SubAir for Cricket stadiums worldwide has designed, supplied and executed project.

A KSCA groundsman releases water onto the ground to demonstrate how the new drainage system works.

The scope included a massive renovation of the outfield along the lines of USGA standards. This meant excavating over 1,000 truckloads of soil, grading, compaction, laying geo-textile, trenching, laying perforated pipes ranging from 150mm to 800mm diametre (totaling a network of over 4.5 kms), gravel layer and a layer of finely graded sand mixed with organic manure and nutrients, before the Bermuda grass was planted on the top.

The resultant outfield possibly surpasses the best outfield anywhere in the cricketing world!

The sub-surface network of perforated pipes is configured in a closed loop and connected to the SubAir Sport System, which is housed under the stands.

The combination of this sub-base design and the SubAir system helps optimize the use of water needed for the turf, as well as capture the entire rainwater or any excess irrigation and redirect it completely for rain water harvesting.

'Most modern outfield'

Anil Kumar, Managing Director of Great Sports Infra said, "We are glad to provide the SubAir aeration and water evacuation technology to KSCA, which will make it the most modern outfield in the cricketing world. Considering that millions of dollars are at risk when a match gets cancelled due to a wet outfield, KSCA has shown great vision in pioneering the use of this next generation technology. Many other cricket stadiums are now interested in adopting the same for their modernisation plans."

Kevin Crowe, Senior Vice President at SubAir said, "SubAir has proven itself across various sports like Baseball, Soccer, Rugby, Golf etc. This system is used at some of the best stadiums worldwide including Wembley (UK), New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, BMO Field (Canada), Etihad Stadium (Manchester City) etc., and has over 500 installations. It has also been used for the NFL, 2014 FIFA World Cup (Brazil) and would also be in use in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia (2018)."

Currently there is no scientific measurement of actionable data related to salinity, temperature and moisture content. The SubAir system acquires data from all over the field through embedded wireless sensors and then takes appropriate corrective action keeping the field healthy and in optimal conditions, fostering stronger roots and turf.

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