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Volume 6 No. 212


The Berlin Olympic Stadium "has increased its capacity," according to the BERLINER MORGENPOST. The stadium operating company said that the installation of row 40 below the suite level "has created 405 additional seats." The stadium's capacity "was permanently increased to 74,649." Berlin Olympic Stadium Managing Dir Joachim E. Thomas said, "The Berlin Olympic Stadium is the biggest stadium in Germany. We are very happy that now even more fans can visit the various events in our stadium." In addition to the 405 permanent seats, the stadium "will add a temporary stand for the remaining home games of Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin starting on Tuesday through to the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) final on May 17." The temporary stand "adds another 1,548 seats and increases the total capacity to 76,197" (BERLINER MORGENPOST, 3/24).

The FA has "allowed the use" of "third generation" artificial pitches in "every round of the FA Cup" from '14-15, according to the BBC. Synthetic pitches "cannot be used after the first round proper under the FA's current rules." The decision to allow 3G surfaces from next season will be "welcomed by clubs who rely on their more sustainable running costs." Artificial surfaces were "outlawed from English professional football almost 20 years ago." FA General Secretary Alex Horne said, "Clubs are increasingly seeing the benefits of using 3G surfaces across the football pyramid and clubs who play on those surfaces can now retain home advantage in the competition. These pitches are a very useful asset and capable of delivering 50-plus hours per week as compared to a natural turf pitch, which can deliver perhaps five hours per week. The value of 3G pitches has been clearly demonstrated during the recent wet weather where leagues within the grassroots game have migrated to them to address fixture backlogs" (BBC, 3/24). REUTERS reported the FA's decision "could be a significant game-changer," even though the EPL said that it had "no plans to look at the issue because its clubs have the resources to provide top-quality grass surfaces." There are "only around 600 good quality artificial pitches in England and the FA is looking to substantially increase that number." U.K. Sports Minister Helen Grant "welcomed the move." Grant: "I believe that allowing 3G pitches in the Conference would now be a sensible step" (REUTERS, 3/24).

Silverstone racetrack bosses have asked British PM David Cameron to "prevent tens of millions of pounds of potentially 'illegal' state aid being used" for a new £280M ($461.7M) Circuit of Wales, according to the BBC. Developers behind the Circuit of Wales scheme in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, are "said to be asking" the Welsh and U.K. governments to commit up to £50M ($82.5M). Silverstone Managing Dir Richard Phillips has "written to the prime minister to intervene." The development "promises to transform one of Wales' most deprived communities." Alongside the racing circuit, "there are plans for hotels, a grandstand, a technology park and a solar park." Those projects, however, all "rely on the racetrack going ahead." The Circuit of Wales would host "all motor racing events except Formula 1" (BBC, 3/24). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported the "Heads of the Valleys Development Company" have said the project "hopes to create 6,000 jobs." Others have "criticized the scheme as a 'white elephant' that would not live up to its ambitious plans to regenerate a deprived region." Silverstone execs said that "their own application for help, when they had sought support to secure the future of the British F1 race," was denied "on the basis that this would be classed as illegal state aid" (REUTERS, 3/24). In London, Kevin Eason wrote "can the Circuit of Wales survive on this epic scale?" The projections and estimates "are convincing with the circuit as the centrepiece of a project to regenerate one of the poorest regions in the country" (LONDON TIMES, 3/24).