Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds Lands SAPCA Award for its Work on World-class Sports Campus

Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds has been declared a SAPCA Award winner for its work on a world-class sports facility at the Institute of Technology, Carlow in Ireland. The institute’s new South Sports Campus is spread across 31 acres and offers both students and high performance athletes a wide range of elite competition-standard facilities.

For its work on the SSC, Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds received the SAPCA Award 2021 in the “project” category and is one of five winners, chosen from a shortlist of 10 finalists.

Excellence in sport

Institute of Technology Carlow, which has campuses in Carlow, Wexford and Wicklow, currently ranks as the third-largest of Ireland’s 14 Institutes of Technology. It has more than 8,300 enrolments and 850 staff, and has generated more than 55,000 graduates since its founding in 1970.

IT Carlow has established itself as a centre of sporting excellence. There has been extensive investment by the Institute in the development of state-of-the-art sports facilities, pioneering new undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and a sports scholarship programme, which enables sports athletes to compete at the highest level while pursuing their education.

The latest round of spending on sports facilities is part of a €150m capital investment programme. As a result of the funding, the institution now caters for performance sports athletes, competitive sports and health and wellbeing. Its sports clubs provide a wide range of activities, catering for all levels of participation.

South Sports Campus

In late 2020, the institution opened its new €15m South Sports Campus (SSC), a world-class outdoor multi-discipline training facility. Facilities at the SSC include six new LED-floodlit playing pitches, a 1.6km looped walking trail, a 400m athletics track and a pavilion building.

Work on SSC began in 2018 and the first phase was completed in 2019. The completion of the second and final phase saw the full opening of the facility in 2020.

At the heart of the complex is the selection of playing pitches, which were built and installed by Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds.

“We were chosen to re-model and develop the 31-acre site for Phase1, which included all works apart from the Pavilion Building,” said Robbie Blair, director at Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds.

“The completed project came in on time and on budget at £5m and included five natural turf playing pitches – two each for rugby and football, as well as a bespoke GAA pitch.

“Work also included a multi-use synthetic pitch certified for GAA, World Rugby and FIFA requirements, a cricket wicket and outfield and an IAAF Class 2, 400m running track and ancillaries.”

Environmental considerations

During the project, more than 200,000 tonnes of earth were moved, while the construction process saw more than 100,000 tonnes of hardcore being used. In addition, 40,000 tonnes of sand were used to create the desired rootzone. Put together, these resulted in the need for more than 5,000 lorry deliveries and an extensive and detailed traffic management plan which was implemented without incident.

As holders of an ISO 14001 environmental accreditation, Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds also follows best practice when delivering projects – and the SSC was no exception. For example, site modelling included shaping berms to create screening and noise attenuation to neighbouring properties. Excess topsoil was used to cover a disused quarry and dust management systems were deployed to limit environmental impact.

Elsewhere, native timber was used to create 820m of acoustic fencing as a renewable resource and the 26 LED flood-light columns – and 103 LED street light columns – used across the site incorporated smart LED light control to reduce light spill.

Once completed, the site was sympathetically landscaped and a total of 9,750sq m of indigenous woodland was planted – comprising 21,908 plants and 224 trees. Natural surface soil profiling reduced the requirement for additional fertilisers, while rainwater harvesting was used to water the trees during a period of drought after planting.

Fit for the future

Located just 1km from the main campus in Carlow town, the SSC will now provide world-class training facilities for the South East and will also go one step further in consolidating IT Carlow’s position as one of Ireland’s leading locations for the provision of sport and physical activity.

The college already has close ties to many Irish sports organisations and offers honours degree programmes in Sport Coaching and Business Management. It also works closely with the GAA, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the Irish Rugby Federation (IRFU).

With more than 40 years sports pitch experience – and well in excess of 400 pitches completed to date (natural and synthetic) – Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds delivers a complete package for the creation of sports surfaces. The company head office is based in Belfast and it also has regional offices in Dublin, Glasgow and Nottingham.

Project overview


Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds Ltd

View Profile