Pitch Undergoing Deep Renovation
Thursday, 28th May 2015 13:59
The usually lush Portman Road pitch currently looks more like Thorpeness beach as it undergoes a deep renovation.
The Blues groundstaff have removed the top few centimetres of the surface, replacing it with a layer of sand which was then mixed in with the soil below before reseeding.
“We’re having a deep renovation that’s costing £50,000 or £60,000,” Blues MD Ian Milne told TWTD.
“That’ll give us a lovely pitch for two or three years, although I didn’t think the pitch was too bad this season.
“It had a difficult time in February but fortunately we had decent weather. I thought our pitch looked better than the Blackburn pitch did.”
Like all the other Championship clubs vying for promotion, the Blues went through the process of making detailed plans to upgrade various aspects of the ground to Premier League standards.
Portman Road would have been a much busier place this summer if Town had returned to the top flight with undersoil heating, improved floodlights and a larger media area amongst the proposed developments.
However, with the Blues still in the Championship, Milne says only minor work is now taking place.
“There’s the normal day to day maintenance and we have to do the roof every so often and we do that in four bits to keep the cash flow going. That’s a very expensive renovation on the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
“One thing we did do which has made quite a big difference to hospitality is to improve the TV signal around the stadium.
“We’ve got about 50 sets around the stadium and we’ve replaced quite a lot of them and converted a lot to make sure they get a decent signal.”
Town are holding a number of events on the FieldTurf behind the East of England Co-op Stand over the summer but Milne says ideally they’d like to stage more.
“We’ve got a CAMRA beer festival, we’re trying to get more on the FieldTurf. I’d love to do a music event on there, we still haven’t lost sight of that,” he added.
“We’ve also got a film event, we’re going to have the open day. It’s one of those slow burners, you’ve got to have events on there to show you are doing things in the summer. We’re doing a bit more than we did last year but not as much as I want to do.”
He says there was no interest in staging a big concert on the main pitch this summer, but further gigs in future years haven’t been ruled out.
“Bands and what have you have got to come here," Milne said. "One, that are touring, and two, that want to come here. There was nobody interested this year.
“Maybe next year but no names or anything like that, however, there has been a little bit of interest.”
Having announced pre-season trips to Shelbourne and Cambridge United, Milne says further games are close to being confirmed - “We haven’t quite nailed it down, but there are quite a few exciting matches” - but there will be no staging of the now infamous second Lazio friendly.
When former keeper Matteo Sereni joined the Rome club in the summer of 2003 as part of the deal they agreed to play two friendlies at Portman Road. They eventually and somewhat reluctantly played the first in 2006, when they ran out 2-0 victors, but the second now seems unlikely to ever take place.
“It came up last year and they weren’t very interested in doing it. I think it’s died a death because they’re not interested,” Milne said.
“If they came back and were fully interested and we’d look at it. But there’s no use forcing them to do it. If we took them to court, it’s not the sort of money worth fighting for because you’re going to spend it in court fees.
“There’s going to have to be a change of mind on Lazio’s behalf to want to make it happen. I’m not pointing fingers at them, it’s something that was in the past and it’s not on our desk at the moment.”
Photo: Action Images
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