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Under-soil heating is a method used in various sports stadia (that have grass as their main surface) which heats the underside of the pitch to avoid any bad weather, such as snow and ice, from building up and ultimately helps the club avoid having to postpone any matches.
The first ground in England to have under-soil heating installed was Goodison Park in 1958. Most English Premiership teams now have this installed in their stadia. While it is not an official requirement, it avoids any financial loss that a club might face in having to postpone any matches due to bad weather. Several teams in the United States National Football League (American football) located in cold-weather cities also have such a system installed. In the case of American football, it is more a matter of player safety, since NFL games are never postponed on account of cold weather. In Germany a under-soil heating is mandatory for 1. and 2. Fußball-Bundesliga. The first one was installed 1972 in the Olympic Stadium of Munich. In the Czech Republic, despite the league having a winter break, the Gambrinus liga requires all participating teams to play on surfaces with under-soil heating. At Old Trafford, the pitch has 18.4 miles of under-soil heating.
There have been numerous occasions where under-soil heating's effectiveness has been questioned. One notable incident happened on December 27, 2005 when three stadia in the FA Premier League, supposedly equipped with under-soil heating, failed to stop their pitches being covered in thick snow - this led to the matches being postponed. Subsequently, on January 1, 2006, the Premier League investigated as to why the pitches at the Reebok Stadium (Bolton Wanderers), Ewood Park (Blackburn Rovers) and St. James' Park (Newcastle United) were not able to repel the snow. In the U.S., a notable example of the failure of an under-soil heating system occurred in 1967, when a newly installed system at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin failed before the NFL Championship game. That game would enter American football lore as the "Ice Bowl".
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