The electric atmosphere and outstanding playing surface of Melbourne’s AAMI Park have been recognised by A-League players, who voted the boutique stadium number one in the 2011/12 Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Stadium Ratings System.

AAMI Park’s pitch was rated the best by visiting A-League captains, whilst the atmosphere created by the army of Melbourne Victory fans was overwhelmingly regarded by the players.

PFA President and Melbourne Heart defender Simon Colosimo today presented the award for best pitch to Justin Lang, AAMI Park’s Head Groundsman, and to the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust.

“The on-field quality of the game has never been higher,” Colosimo said.  “Part of the reason for this is the high quality of the pitch at AAMI Park. I wish to congratulate AAMI Park and the head groundsman Justin Lang for preparing such an outstanding field of play throughout the 2011/12 season.”

AAMI Park and Lang are the third recipients of the annual PFA award, which was won in 2009/10 and 2010/11 by Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and its Head Groundsman, Mal Caddies.

Adrian Leijer, PFA Executive member and Melbourne Victory captain, was also on hand to present the players’ award for best atmosphere to the Blue and White Brigade’s Adam Tennenini.

“One of the real pleasures of playing for Melbourne Victory is the tremendous support we get from our fans. The PFA congratulates the Melbourne Victory fans for creating the best atmosphere in the A-League for the 2011/12 season,”Leijer said.

The Hon. Hugh Delahunty, Minister for Sport and Recreation, congratulated the Melbourne and Olympics Park Trust for managing such an outstanding stadium that’s not only a hit with the fans, but also the superstars of the A-League.
“With AAMI Park’s fantastic player amenities including world class training, recovery and medical facilities, and the best pitch in the country, what better place for Melbourne’s elite football teams, including the Heart and Victory, and Australia’s international teams, the Socceroos and Matildas to take on the world,” Mr Delahunty said.

According to PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab, “The PFA Stadium Rating System is an important measure of two essential elements for the success of the A-League – the quality of play and the fan experience.  Fans should not underestimate the impact they can have on the intensity of an A-League match, especially where it is complemented by an outstanding playing field.”

Nonetheless, Schwab sounded one note of caution saying that,“Unfortunately, the assessment of players was that the quality of the pitch at a number of grounds fell in comparison with the previous season, especially at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide and NIB Stadium in Perth. It was, however, very pleasing to see the dramatic improvement at Etihad Stadium, which has recovered from being arguably the worst A-League pitch in 2009/10 to be the second best pitch this season.”

For the full results of the 2011/12 PFA A-League Stadium Rating System, click here