Fleet makes sweep of new Brighton stadium
IPSWICH: A fleet of machines will be making a clean sweep of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club’s new �93million stadium.
The fleet, from Ipswich mower makers Ransomes Jacobsen, includes an all-electric Jacobsen Eclipse 322 triple mower for keeping the new Fibrelastic pitch, seeded in April this year, in trim.
Head groundsman Steve Winterburn, who has been with the club through its nomadic phase and now has five full-time staff with a further three at the training facility at the nearby University of Sussex, said the decision to use an electric mower was aimed at reducing the club’s environmental impact but has the added benefit of being very quiet.
“We are conscious of our environmental impact and that was part of the thinking when we decided to purchase the electric version of the Jacobsen Eclipse,” he said.
“It has adjustable frequency of cut control, which means we can vary the number of cuts per metre for different grass conditions. Obviously there’s no risk of an oil leak, but more importantly there’s no emissions and no noise pollution.
“We’ve had a lot of media interest in the stadium, with numerous TV and film crews here, together with journalists doing interviews. These are mainly done pitch-side and under normal circumstance we would have to stop mowing. Because the Eclipse is virtually silent, we can continue without disrupting the filming.”
Three Ransomes Mastiff walk-behind stadium mowers, which are used specifically for match-day pitch preparation, are also included in the package. The club has also taken delivery of an E-Z-GO electric powered ST400 turf utility vehicle, an Iseki TG5470 general purpose tractor, a Cushman Turf Truckster with demountable Hardi sprayer, a Turfco 1540EC top dresser and from Wiedenmann, a GXi turf aerator and Terra brush from Ransomes Jacobsen.
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“I’ve received tremendous support from the chairman, Tony Bloom, and directors,” said Mr Winterburn.
“I was allowed to work closely with the architects, KSS Design Group, to ensure that the grounds maintenance requirements were designed-in at the beginning of the process and we’ve really benefitted from that. We have modern facilities under the stand for storage and maintenance; I have my own office overlooking the pitch and we have our own mess room and showers.
“We’ve come a long way from being homeless in 1997 when the Goldstone ground was sold, to ground sharing with Gillingham for a couple of years, before returning to the Withdean stadium here in Brighton in 1999. We were then subject to the longest public enquiry in British history over planning for AMEX stadium, which thankfully was granted in our favour.”
The next phase of the development is under way with the proposed new �15million training facility, which will be large enough to accommodate at least seven full size pitches and two smaller pitches as part of our academy facilities. It will also have an artificial pitch, an indoor facility and support structures for the management team, senior and academy players and possible residential accommodation.
“This is an exciting time to be involved with the Seagulls and for me personally, as head of the grounds maintenance team. One thing is certain, we’ll need more equipment and partners like the Ernest Doe team who can meet, and exceed, our needs,” said Mr Winterburn.