One of the UK's rapidly emerging major sporting venues is predicting a significantly more streamlined and cost-effective maintenance regime after taking delivery of new John Deere equipment.
The Rose Bowl in Southampton, home of Hampshire Cricket, recently hosted arguably the most dramatic final in the history of Twenty20 cricket, when the home side triumphed over Somerset with the last ball of the match.
The venue agreed a five-year preferred supplier deal with John Deere at the start of the year, which will enable The Rose Bowl to update its machinery fleet as it now moves towards gaining Test Match status in 2011, and completes a new 18-hole championship quality golf course over the next three years.
"We wanted a deal that would suit the dual needs of the club, both for the cricket and the growing golf requirement," says grounds manager Nigel Gray. "The preferred supplier deal means that we can augment our current fleet with the latest machines, giving us vital flexibility as the turf maintenance aspect here continues to grow."
Latest machines to be delivered are an 8800 TerrainCut rotary mower and an 8700 PrecisionCut fairway mower, supplied by local dealer New Forest Farm Machinery. The machines add a new dimension to the cutting regime at The Rose Bowl, believes Nigel.
"We're now using the 8700 to mow the cricket outfield," he says. "One man can finish the job in an hour and a quarter, compared to two men taking two hours each using the existing triple mowers. That's a dramatic reduction in man hours."
The 8700 is shared with the parkland golf course next door, where newly appointed golf course manager Julian Covey and assistants Ian Reeves and Joe Weston also use the 8800 on the semi-rough. "The 8800 offers us efficiency, flexibility and ease of use, and is a vast improvement on our previous machines," says Julian.
Under the golf club's membership requirements, the aim is to have at least nine holes always fully operational, so the coming years will require a fine balancing act between new holes being constructed and coming into play and existing holes being decommissioned, which in turn will demand increased flexibility and mobility from the course maintenance equipment.
Improvements at The Rose Bowl continue unabated, with the addition for the 2010 season of two new stands, one either side of the main pavilion, which have boosted seating by 4500 to give the ground a 23,500 capacity - the number that thronged the venue for the Twenty20 final.
The ground has also installed its first Tri Vision sight screen at the pavilion end, with another one due soon under what will be the location for a new 175-bedroom hotel, which will overlook the cricket ground on one side and the 18th hole of the championship golf course - planned to be its signature hole - on the other.
"The next three years are set to be ones of big change," adds Julian. "The machinery requirements will only increase as the construction of the new course continues and the cricket ground prepares to host our first Test Match in 2011.
"Ensuring that we have access to the right machines at the right time, and from a dealer who understands how we operate, will be crucial going forward."
Dealer salesman Rob Crouch of New Forest Farm Machinery agrees. "Over the last 10 years we've built up a strong and trusting relationship with Nigel and his team. He knows that he can call me at any time to discuss changes in his requirements, and that we can deliver new additions to his fleet and any spare parts with minimal delay."
For further details and/or photographs, please contact:
John Deere Limited
Tel: 01949 860491
Fax: 01949 860490