West Ham United took another exciting step closer to moving to their new London Stadium home as the first seeds were sown on the pitch.
The work, which will result in the Hammers playing on a world-class surface on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, began on Wednesday morning and the process took around four hours to complete.
The first sprouts of grass are hoped to be seen within just five days of the seeding process being completed, and the pitch should be ready for its inaugural full cut between two to five days later.
Head Groundsman at the London Stadium Greg Bolton, working in conjunction with West Ham United’s Head Groundsman Dougie Robertson, expressed the importance of the seeding and assured supporters that it would be handled in the right way.
He said: “It certainly is a big moment [in the development of the Stadium]. It’s very important that this is taken with great care. I think the idea is not to rush this process. We have to get it right.
“The contractors we have on site are one of the best around. They do all the top grounds in the country, and we’re glad to have them on board here. It most certainly will be one of the best surfaces around.”
The Stadium hosted its first gig on Saturday night, with rock legends AC/DC attracting a huge crowd in E20, and the ground staff ensured the pitch was prepared for the seeding process after the concert.
Though the seeds on the surface will take around a week to shoot, the pitch already has a green colouring, which Bolton explained is due to the artificial components in the turf.
“It’s very deceiving at the moment,” he continued. “We’ve got the Desso fibres all exposed, and a lot of people think we’ve got full grass coverage already, but all that is just the reinforcing system in the surface.
“It’s exactly the same as the Club had at the Boleyn Ground, and it just helps aid soil stability. We shouldn’t have any big divots coming out of the surface; it should just be scarring. It helps with repairs and holding the surface together.”
Athletics events will be held at the London Stadium prior to the start of the Hammers’ 2016/17 campaign – which will kick-off with a UEFA Europa League third-qualifying round tie and the Betway Cup clash with Juventus on Sunday 7 August.
The London Anniversary Games will see track and field events take place there over the weekend of 22-23 July, but Bolton assured fans that the surface will be ready for the Club’s opening game at their new home.
“We are expecting to see slight imprints in the surface [after the athletics] which we don’t see as being too much of an issue,” he explained. “It will just be a case of going round with a fork and just lifting areas which have any slight impressions in them.
“The athletics require a clean surface without any markings, so the first [football] markings will be going on the week after the athletics ahead of the West Ham fixtures.”