The groundbreaking Big Stadium Hockey project which took international hockey to the Twickenham Stoop has won in the Sports Innovation category at the 2020 Sports Business Awards.
The partnership between England Hockey, Harlequins, FIH, Polytan, Polypipe, STRI Group, and Sport England saw the development of new technology that allowed an international-standard playing surface to be temporarily laid at the home of Quins, with Great Britain's men and women taking on New Zealand in June 2019. The matches were a huge success with a packed stadium creating the biggest hockey crowd on these shores since the London 2012 Olympics.
The technology was also used by Hockey Ireland to host their women's Olympic qualifiers in November 2019 in front of the largest crowds to watch any women’s team sport in Ireland. Also in late 2019, England Hockey and Quins announced a long-term partnership between the two organisations.
The turf used at the Stoop was Polytan’s Poligras Tokyo GT, which is the surface for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021. This turf is made from 60% renewable raw materials (derived from sugar cane) and requires up to 65% less water which was a critical consideration for a temporary installation without irrigation infrastructure. After the event, the turf was rolled up and re-installed at Great Britain's Bisham Abbey training base as their main pitch while preparing for the Tokyo Games.
England Hockey Chairman Royston Hoggarth said: "We are delighted to be the recipient of this award; which is fantastic recognition for the work put in by both England Hockey and its partners.
"Hockey has had many great moments in the past few years, and the day of fixtures at the Stoop was a fantastic milestone for the sport. To have the courage and imagination behind the technology is one thing, but it is another feat entirely to then ensure delivery to a world-class sustainable standard.
"Big Stadium Hockey has a very bright future and I look forward to seeing it implemented across the world again when the catastrophic effects of everything that's happened in 2020 are behind us."
Comments from the judging panel included: 'An excellent and sustainable solution addressing not only spectator numbers, but also flexibility to use different stadia around the world and reduce the need for much more expensive permanent infrastructure with a stadium or temporary installation and no legacy such as tribunes.
'An innovative way to bring hockey to life to a wider audience. Love the sustainability and longevity piece included here.
'An excellent innovation to enable hockey to hold events in big arena, extending spectator capacity. This innovation is one that can create new opportunities for the sport on a global scale.’
For more information, photos and videos please visit the Big Stadium Hockey website.