11 Sep 2014
Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium is an extraordinary achievement of modern architecture. It contains 40,000 tonnes of concrete and 16,000 tonnes of steel, creating one of the most modern and impressive sports facilities in the world across seven levels. The result is a worthy home for the Welsh national rugby team, and it has played host to a number of major events in a wide range of other sports.
However, what many people don’t realise is that pallets also play an important role in its structure. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that the pitch is the place where they are used, and yet more surprising is the fact that pallets are central to the Millennium Stadium’s ability to provide an advanced, versatile sports solution for a huge variety of activities.
A Pitch Problem
For all the wonders of the Millennium Stadium, there was one problem it really struggled with. With the pitch located under tens of thousands of tonnes of concrete and steel, it was extremely difficult to make sure the grass got enough sunlight to grow well and provide the quality of pitch surface that the stadium required.
So what was the solution? High-tech artificial sunlight? Pour money into regularly laying down fresh turf on the playing surface? Compromising and laying down artificial grass that could survive without sunlight? In fact, the solution was a surprisingly simple one. They decided to grow the grass outside, and they found that the best way to achieve this was through the use of a large number of high-quality, high-performance pallets.
The Perfect Pitch
It was decided that the best way to allow the turf to be grown outside and then quickly and easily brought in for the pitch was to grow it on a total of 7,412 pallets. This meant that each pallet was essentially a portable piece of a modular pitch. The pallets could be easily brought in and laid down ready for play when they were needed, and then if necessary they could be taken back outside afterwards so that the grass could resume its place in the sun.
This also conquered another challenge that the stadium faced. Playing host to so many different sporting events and activities, how could they best manage to provide a pitch that was adaptable for different needs and configurations? The solution of growing the pitch in portable sections on pallets also solved this problem. It essentially made the playing surface modular, ready to be laid down in different arrangements and configurations depending on the needs of the next event.
Alternative pitch solutions such as this are now being seriously considered by a number of other rugby clubs, though the application of this idea remains in the early stages at the moment. Such a simple, adaptable solution could also come in handy outside the sporting world. It could even provide a way for homeowners to quickly and easily put together their dream garden, complete with near-instant lawn.