Wembley Stadium debuted a number of improvements during yesterday’s (Sunday’s) Carabao Cup final between Manchester City and Aston Villa, including a brand-new pitch and a new LED floodlight system.
Yesterday marked the first match at Wembley since England beat Montenegro on November 14 and since then a significant amount of renovation work has taken place at the venue.
It comes as Wembley prepares to host more than 60 events this year, including the finals of the men’s and women’s FA Cup, as well as seven matches at UEFA Euro 2020.
The new pitch surface has been reconstructed and grown over a 14-week period and it marks the first time that this has been carried out at a major European stadium during the winter months. Over 75,000km of artificial grass fibres have been stitched into the layers of sand beneath the pitch, which is made up of 97 per cent organic grass and three per cent artificial grass fibres.
Head groundsman Karl Standley said: “This is the first winter pitch reconstruction to be undertaken and grown in Europe in such a short timescale. Construction of the pitch took four weeks with the team working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, followed by 10 weeks to grow the grass from seed. The whole process has been undertaken using only artificial light, but we are absolutely thrilled with the results.”
New changing rooms have also been fitted at Wembley, with the facilities having been designed with input from the England technical team to ensure they use the latest high-performance thinking. The U-shaped layout of the facilities is designed to provide a more effective environment for players and coaches.
The upgraded LED floodlight infrastructure includes the ability to turn the lighting on and off instantly to improve match continuity and also delivers a 40 per cent reduction in electrical load. The lighting will offer various special effects such as light-to-sound synchronisation and will be complemented by a new state-of-the-art sound system.
The sound system’s new speakers can reach 142 decibels from one metre away, which the makers claim is louder than a jet aircraft when the volume is turned up to 11.
The new floodlight system will comprise 368 new LED lights. The system will be on full display when a light show is deployed for the England internationals at the end of the month.
Mark Burrows, the FA’s chief operating officer, said: “Wembley is an iconic stadium with a history like no other venue, but we are always looking to evolve the venue infrastructure to ensure that it stays at the forefront of sports and entertainment and maintains its industry-leading status.
“Since opening in 2007, technology has moved on at a rapid pace and these cutting-edge facilities will provide the very best experience for fans, players and performers.”
Manchester City defeated Villa 2-1 yesterday to win the Carabao Cup for a third year in a row.
Images: The FA