When on June 19, 2011, the Juve Stabia soccer team won in the playoffs against Atletico Roma they earned a promotion to the Serie B. Apart from the thousands of fans that invaded the streets of Castellammare di Stabia, the team’s hometown, many were also celebrating in Gallo d’Alba. For the Campania based team, this victory meant a return to the cadet series after 60 years in the waiting. Juve Stabia’s success was a veritable surprise because the club, which came from being promoted to the second division, had started the 2010/2011 season with other objectives. After the celebrations, Juve Stabia had to confront new challenges, including the renovation of the stadium while setting goals for the new season.
The synthetic pitch in Menti Stadium underwent a series of renovations during the summer in order to bring it up to date with the latest FIFA requirements. The excellent work done on this pitch was confirmed by the speed with which the Romeo Menti Stadium was granted the FIFA 2 Star certification.
In order to comply with the rules of the Serie B championship, the stadium, apart from having the synthetic turf replaced, was also subjected to other improvements. One of the changes concerned safety, the video surveillance system and external illumination was improved to ensure the best possible visibility especially during night matches. Nevertheless, the interior stadium fence, which had already been renovated still complied with Serie B standards therefore it remained unchanged along with the section for guest fans. The locker rooms underneath the stands were renovated and an anti-doping room was added. The seating capacity was increased to 10,000 people and the press stand was widened to increase the number of spots for journalists.
While many teams in Italy and as many in Europe train on synthetic turf, there remains a certain reservation about using it for football. Many say that a synthetic grass pitch can result in a higher number of injuries.
“There have always been prejudices”, says Clemente Filippi. “Even when we installed the first synthetic pitch, there were concerns that it would cause a higher number of player injuries. I can say that with those first generation pitches, in the first years, the number of injuries was actually rather low. In the 2003/2004 season, when we were promoted from the Serie D division, the number of muscular injuries playing on an artificial pitch was very low. Over the years, the injuries we have seen were caused by other factors and certainly not from the synthetic pitch. Today, the main cause is the rhythm of the match, which is much higher than in the past, and the playing surface actually does not count for much”. Another often heard and read comment is that those who play on synthetic turf have an advantage over those who play on a natural grass pitch. “It is thought that to play on an artificial grass field is an enormous advantage. I would not be so quick to say this, seeing as this year, we have lost the first two matches played at home (against Verona and Brescia). It is likely that during the first ten minutes of the match there might be some adaptation issues, but we have to consider that today any club demanding respect has the opportunity to train on a synthetic surface, because the need to be able to train even in rain and freezing temperatures exists for everyone. I don’t think there are advantages; the only difference is the spectacle, because the plays and the pace are faster with respect to a natural pitch”, adds Filippi.