Work on relaying the much-maligned Hillsborough pitch is well under way.
The £1m project is being carried out by specialist Leicester-based company John Hewitts Sportsturf.
Wednesday struggled in their own backyard last season, winning just five times, and officials hope the installation of a state-of-the-art Desso GrassMaster surface will help them turnaround their fortunes next year.
DESSO technology, which intertwines natural grass and artificial fibres, is already employed by clubs including Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.
Nick Danvers, who joined Hewitts in 1990 and has worked on playing surfaces around the globe, is overseeing Wednesday’s pitch overhaul. The site manager updates The Star’s Owls writer Dom Howson on their progress.
Dom Howson: It was just over a fortnight ago you started work on the pitch so what stage are you up to?
Nick Danvers: Everything is going really well, although we lost a couple of days due to the bad weather.
We have had six people working on the site every day. We have dug up and taken the top surface off. That created a lot of problems but now that’s removed, it soon drys out.
We are on the formation level and put all the drainage in and done part of the irrigation installation. Once we have completed the irrigation, we will look at the possibility of putting a gravel carpet over the whole surface because it is very stoney. It actually stands on an old river bed so there are stones and boulders in it which creates problems with our machinery.
DH: What is the programme for the next couple of weeks?
Clubs are investing in Desso pitches because they are the best of their kind around at the minute.Nick Danvers
ND: The next step will be to then put the interlocking drains in which run across the main drainage. As soon as they are in place, we put the heating parts on and build up with sand. The roots then go on top and will be Desso stitched.
DH: Most Premier League and some Championship clubs have now installed Desso pitches. Why are they so popular and how do they work?
ND: Clubs are investing in them because they are the best of their kind around at the minute.
Desso is a polypropylene fibre that is stitched in every 20 mil to 200 mil depth and you can’t see it when the natural grass is there.
When the natural grass wears away, the green polypropylene fibres, which add strength and stability, become visible and allow teams to still get the ball down and play.
DH: When the bad weather kicks in, will the pitch deteriorate?
ND: I am 100% confident it won’t cut up. The pitch will be heated more efficiently with the new system. Clubs are installing Dessos for their playability, knowing it will be an even playing surface throughout the winter.
DH: Will there be any other changes?
ND: We have reduced the slope on the North Stand side towards the Kop. We have levelled things out so the players will notice a bit of a difference.
DH: What is you completion date?
ND: We would like to be finished by June 14 and then the Desso process will start.