Fluon® ETFE: How Fluorinated Plastic Enhanced the Spectacle of a 2023 Women’s World Cup Match

If you happened to watch New Zealand’s match against Sweden in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™, you may have noticed something spectacular above the host nation’s home soil.

Placed high above the heads of 30,000 spectators, Fluon® ETFE FILM was hard at work preventing all intrusion from external factors, as well as illuminating the event for all to witness. That’s because the unique fluorinated polymer film, crafted by AGC Chemicals Europe, was the sole choice for creating the first permanently covered turf arena in the world: Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Forsyth Barr Stadium

A Stadium that Shines with Natural Light

Many sports stadiums across the world are open-top structures that allow natural sunlight to directly hit the pitch, with most having to settle for retractable rooftops for when the weather takes a turn for the worse. As well as being costly to manufacture, these stadiums are slow to adapt to external factors and can interfere with stadium events.

With Fluon® ETFE, this is not the case for the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Located in Dunedin, the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, the distinctive stadium is no stranger to global events. In 2011, Forsyth Barr Stadium hosted the Rugby World Cup and its 100,000 fans, and has since been home to a plethora of multi-purpose sports and entertainment. Some of the biggest names in music have performed under its ETFE roof, including the likes of Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Pink, and Queen.

Watch: Forsyth Barr Stadium Case Study.

So, what makes this stadium so special? As aforementioned, Forsyth Barr Stadium is the only turf stadium in the world to have a fully enclosed translucent roof, that also acts as a façade. The advantage of natural light and protection is far above the biggest pull, yet Fluon® ETFE provides many more benefits to the stadium and its visitors.

The ETFE FILM material was provided by AGC Chemicals Europe, while the constructed ETFE cushions that lay across the top of the stadium were created by Vector Foiltec. Commissioned in 2011, the roof/façade covers 20,588m2: the entirety of the pitch and its spectator stands. Clients for the stadium’s construction wished for a cost-effective method of cover that would be durable, aesthetic, and positively impact the stadium’s surrounding community. For this, AGC Chemicals Europe was requested for its reliable Fluon® ETFE FILM, that could withstand the often cold and harsh weather of Dunedin, while providing clear translucency for an open-top feel.


The Beauty of Fluon® ETFE

Fluon® ETFE is a fluorine-based plastic and melt-processable copolymer (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) that offers impressive corrosion resistance, heat resistance, and easy processing, as well as superior strength and physical toughness over a wide temperature range. Using a unique film-forming method, Fluon® ETFE resin is made into a high-performance film that is between 100 – 500 microns thick. In addition to retaining its resin properties, Fluon® ETFE FILM offers anti-stick properties, electrical insulation properties, and long-term weatherability—making it the ideal material for roofing and façades.

Fluon® ETFE FILM is lightweight and flexible enough to be the choice of material for architects wishing to create transparent tension membrane structures. Although much lighter than glass alternatives, ETFE FILM is more durable and less fragile, showcasing safety benefits such as shatter resistance. Its lightweight capabilities are cost-effective, requiring fewer structural supports and reducing time for construction.

AGC Chemicals Europe has impacted multiple famous projects around the world. You can find its Fluon® ETFE FILM on such buildings as:

       Allianz Arena, Germany

       Baku National Stadium, Azerbaijan

       Fisht Olympic Stadium, Russia

       Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

Discover how AGC transformed California’s SoFi Stadium, in this blog.


The Benefits of ETFE for Forsyth Barr

It’s clear; when it comes to providing a clear alternative to expensive and fragile glass roofs, there is no better material that looms large with its list of benefits than Fluon® ETFE FILM.

The stand-out feature of Forsyth Barr is its admittance of natural light inside a stadium that is completely covered above and protected from external factors. Fluon® ETFE FILM provides excellent light transmittance, enabling the entire 20,588m2 floorplan to be naturally lit in the day, as well as providing a clear view of the stars at night. It is also resistant to ultraviolet light, allowing those underneath the roof to benefit from sunlight, while the natural turf is able to grow and flourish. In previous tests, Fluon® ETFE FILM has been subjected to 16 hours of accelerated weathering testing (comparable to over 30 years’ exposure)—after which, the material showed no signs of deterioration.

More importantly, Forsyth Barr Stadium is a leading example for low-carbon, sustainable structures that benefit from natural light and low maintenance costs, as well as being the first of its kind to support a full-length turf pitch. There were numerous advantages to grass turf for the FIFA Women’s World Cup; players had better traction, softer landings that reduced injury, and ultimately reduced safety risks for the match.

And thanks to Fluon® ETFE FILM, spectators could watch under the natural sunlight of Dunedin without feeling its brisk climate.

For a deep dive into Fluon® ETFE FILM, visit the AGC Chemicals Europe website.