Glasgow's canny solution

GLASGOW'S innovative solution for an athletics stadium for this month's Commonwealth Games has been put to the test over the past two days and looks to have come through with flying colours.

The city's elders were faced with the problem of finding a use for Glasgow's three beloved soccer venues during the Games to ensure no one amongst the locals felt left out.

Celtic Park will host the opening ceremony whilst Rangers' home ground has been assigned the rugby sevens tournament. With no soccer at the Commonwealth Games, this left the treasured national football stadium without a sport or ceremony to host.

Hampden Park is normally a pure soccer venue with the front row of seats typically close to the side line, as with most grounds in the UK. No way would an athletics track fit.

That's no mean task. Even with the substantial size of the grassed area of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, some fencing and seats still had to be removed to accommodate the 100 metres start area.

The Scots would not be beaten and worked out that if the athletics track could be raised so that the outer lane bordered row seven, the venue could host the athletics competition and still have the best seating capacity available in the city.

It was an engineering challenge, but still way cheaper than building a new-purpose built stadium that might never be used again.

The solution is best explained by imagining a giant concert stage platform being built not only across an entire soccer pitch but extending several rows back as well.

That was a big enough task in itself but then there is the small matter of laying the athletic track and infield.

This means first of all a gravel base course - picture a train of heavy trucks driving on to the stage dumping hundreds of loads of the required crushed rock - followed by a steamroller to compact and smooth it.

Then comes the need for a layer of bitumen basically a road surface with all the heavy equipment and manoeuvres that go with that.

Finally, the simplest of the three tasks the rolling out of the carpet that is the Mondo track surface itself and the gluing of it to the bitumen.

But overlaying all of that is the meeting of the highly restrictive tolerances necessary for the certification of an athletics track, one in 1000 in the direction of running and one in 100 from the outside to the inside lanes.

But in the best traditions of a television direct marketing promotion - there's more.

Holes then have to be cut to make provision for the sandpits for the long and triple jumps, the plant boxes for the pole vault and most problematically the massive uprights for the gates on the discus and hammer cage, all 10 metres in height of them - and that's just above the ground.

And let's not forget the laying, preparation and maintenance of a fully grassed infield sitting on that very same platform stage.

All aspects of the adapted stadium were in test-mode during the IAAFs only two-day Diamond League meeting but most interest was in the track and whether it would survive, let alone deliver the highly quality results that it did.

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