Widnes Vikings have revealed they will literally break new ground when they return to Super League next season, by playing on an artificial grass pitch.
The club say the surface – known as the ‘i-pitch’ – will be installed at the Stobart Stadium in time for pre-season training in December and will be used for Super League games.
Widnes have also revealed surprising plans to offer the pitch for community use on weekdays between games which could include five-a-side soccer leagues. The Vikings have added they are working with the RFL and the pitch manufacturers to ensure it meets the required standards for rugby league.
Steve O’Connor, Vikings Chairman said: “This is a first, not just for the Vikings or rugby league but for sport as a whole.
“The i-pitch at Stobart Stadium Halton will modernise the game and create a fantastic match day experience. Our members and visitors will be able to see more games, it will create a pathway for our young players and it will be utilised as a community resource.
“We are working with our partners at Halton Borough Council and have exciting plans to transform the i-pitch into a 7-a-side football sports facility throughout the week. This will generate income for the club and the stadium”.
O’Connor added, “It is my vision for people to be able to ‘keep on the grass’ after the game and enjoy community and family/fun activities.
“It is absolute nonsense to have a stadium and not be able to access the pitch for 90% of the time.
“Denis Betts and the team have been training regularly on a similar surface over the last few weeks and we have received some great feedback. We need to dispel the myth of grass burns and safety issues, technology has vastly improved in recent years and this simply doesn’t happen! It will also reduce the risks of cancellation through frozen pitches.”