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Work has finally begun on a brand new, state-of-the art third Generation artificial outdoor pitch at Lancaster University, after its original start date was delayed last year. Construction on the all-weather facility began in Week 4 and will be built over what was previously college pitch four, as the university attempts to combat the rough Lancastrian weather that has plagued sporting events so far this year.
The 3G pitch will allow sports such as football and both forms of Rugby to be played on it during treacherous weather conditions, and the University hope it will ease the fixture congestion that currently exists due to the numerous match postponements.
3G pitches are a form of artificial pitch specifically designed to be a form of hybrid between grass and traditional Astroturf pitches. The 3G pitch will contain much longer blades of artificial grass than found on a traditional all-weather pitch and will be set with an ‘infill’ of rubber crumb that allows for more sand to be held within the surface if needed. The longer blades combined with the shock absorbers found below the surface mean that full studs can be worn in the same way as on grass and allow for a similar feel. However unlike on Astroturf, these longer blades mean that the pitch will not be suitable to play hockey on .
By using a drainage system similar to that found on the campus Astroturf pitches, the surface will be able to absorb overnight rain and heavy downpours whilst still being playable. The pitch will also be floodlit and fenced; allowing for matches to be played in poor visibility during both day and night, further alleviating problems with mounting fixtures.
However, the development of the 3G pitch has caused some minor issues to be created regarding the other surrounding grass college pitches, for example pitches have had to be altered to compensate for its size. Pitch three has had to be made narrower, whilst pitch four has been made shorter, meaning that the already compressed football pitches will be made even smaller to make room. This could have a knock on effect for college teams playing on grass that week as the football may suffer due to the pitches being overly narrow or too short.
The announcement of the 3G pitch finally being built will come as a great relief to a lot of Lancaster University’s sporting community however, as the pushed back start date for construction combined with the bad weather have caused frustration at the lack of fixtures being played.
Originally planned to be built in time for the beginning of this academic year, the development of the pitch was pushed back to December and was expected to disrupt the collegiate football league throughout first term as it was being developed. This did not materialise, but the construction has now begun.
The pitch is expected to completed by Week 4 of Summer term and will come as a big relief to the captains who simply want to get back to playing sports again. The build will inevitably effect proposed sports on the college pitches and will likely be the cause of even further fixture cancelation if the weather improves.
However, in the long run this will prove to be a positive step for the university’s sport and will undoubtedly prove a good purchase as the weather at Lancaster becomes less of an issue.