The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid will be played at the Stade de France on Saturday (9 p.m.). An event that required the complete change of pitch after a series of concerts earlier in the week. In record time. Explanations.
Sadio Mané and Karim Benzema will benefit from brand new terrain for their fight at the top. The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid will take place on Saturday at the Stade de France (9 p.m.). On a completely changed lawn. After a series of concerts, the lawn of the Dionysian enclosure was no longer in a condition to host a high-level football game. On Saturday evening, Nicolas Sirkis and the Indochine group ended the series of events by celebrating their 40th stage anniversary with an XXL show. With 97,000 spectators, the attendance record for the Stade de France was broken for the occasion. To make up for the delays related to the Covid-19 pandemic and the postponed shows, the Den des Blues is facing a backlog of artistic events.
Three months ago, after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, France offered their big stadium to host the Champions League final originally scheduled for Saint Petersburg. The appointment at the Stade de France was free, but this unforeseen major event made the logistics considerably more difficult. Those in charge of the Stade de France consortium had already planned to change the pitch for the top 14 final, scheduled for June 24th. This left a suitable time for the organization. But with the addition of the C1 finale, they only had 48 hours to make this change.
“A real logistical challenge”
“It has never happened in such a short time,” confides Loïc Duroselle, Director of Programming and Institutional Relations at the Stade de France. It’s a real logistical challenge. UEFA is vigilant, they are following this very closely. She is aware of the timing difficulties that this entails, but we are in very strong competition and it is normal to provide a seat up to the level of the event. Despite the conditions, the result must be perfect.
The organizers have worked hard for this. The sod grew on a sod farm north of Barcelona, Spain. 500 rolls of grass were transported to Saint-Denis in 24 refrigerated trucks. All in two days. The turf was recorded at 24 degrees in Spain, then kept at 2 degrees for the duration of the drive to keep it from succumbing to disease. With an arrival at the Stade de France at 14 degrees, the ideal temperature to put it down.
Thirty people were mobilized
After landing, the reels were placed on the floor of the stadium where we could still see the plastic plinth usually planted in August. The work began at 2 a.m. Monday night and was scheduled to end Tuesday night. About 30 people were mobilized on site to meet these tight deadlines.
Videos broadcast the best moments of this C1 season, including Karim Benzema’s goals against PSG in the round of 16 second leg, on the stadium’s giant screens. “I can’t take it anymore, I almost stopped watching it on screen,” joked a gardener who supports PSG between two roller poses. Then it was a matter of drawing the lines, placing the goals and arranging everything. All are available for training for Liverpool and Real Madrid on the eve of the final, which is scheduled for Friday.
“Both teams will have no excuses”
“It’s a big challenge with extra pressure, but our team is prepared for it,” assures Andrew Cole, technical director of iTurf, which manages the Stade de France turf. The grass for the final will meet international standards. We will carry out all necessary tests for this. Both teams will have no excuse to do their best in optimal playing conditions.”
These shortened deadlines have nevertheless increased the bill. The consortium cites a range between 300,000 and 500,000 euros (the amount is rather at the upper end of this range). Additional costs borne entirely by UEFA. After the top 14 final, the turf will be removed and moved to the Le Mans Stadium (belongs to the Vinci Group, manager of the Stade de France). To be used for several more months.
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