By Tom Degun in London

London_2012_blue_hockey_pitchMarch 28 - London 2012 today announced that the hockey pitches to be used at the Hockey Centre at the Olympic Park will be blue for the first time ever at an Olympic Games.

Traditionally, hockey is played on a green pitch as the sport was historically played on natural grass before the move was made to synthetic turf pitches in the 1970s and green was adopted to replicate the natural playing environment.

The move to blue pitches will provide high levels of contrast with the white ball and white lines for players, officials, spectators, photographers and broadcasters while the pitch run off areas will be pink providing a striking and dynamic look to the Hockey Centre.

Debbie Jevans, the London 2012 Director of Sport, said: "As we look to be innovative as well as providing first class facilities, we are pleased to be working with the International Hockey Federation and installing blue hockey pitches in 2012.

"We have carried out research with athletes and broadcasters and are looking forward to world class hockey being played at a bespoke venue on a blue pitch.

"The colour blue will define hockey in 2012."

Over 600,000 spectators are expected to cheer on as the world's top players battle it out on blue pitches while hockey will have over 380 competitors at London 2012 with 24 teams competing at the Games in the men's and women's competitions.

Kelly Fairweather, chief executive of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), said: "The playing performance and quality of a pitch are our primary concern and we're happy that LOCOG has researched this thoroughly.

"In addition though, we're keen to innovate in the presentation of hockey to ensure, among other things, that spectators either in the stadium or on television get a good view of the exciting field action.

"The pitch will blend very well with the look of the London 2012 Games as well as enhancing the visual impact of hockey at the Games."

The complex includes two pitches, one for competition and one for warm up.

The main pitch will stage all of the 76 matches which will be spread over 14 days of competition from July 29 to August 11.

There will be seating for 16,000 spectators who will not only enjoy the hockey but also stunning views south across the Olympic Park and the Olympic Stadium.

The Hockey Centre will be built in the spring of 2012 and it will also be used to host both the five and seven-a-side Paralympic football competitions.

The warm up pitch at the Hockey Centre will host the five-a-side competition with 64 blind and partially sighted athletes to take part in 2012 and 21 matches to be played across five match days.

The main pitch will host the seven-a-side competition where 96 athletes with cerebral palsy will play 21 matches across the alternate five days.

The two pitches to be installed in the summer of 2011 at the Old Loughtonians Hockey Club in Essex, which is the Hockey Games Time Training Venue, will also mirror the same blue and pink colour combination.

After the Games the Hockey Centre will move to the north of the Olympic Park, joining a group of facilities in the area known as Eton Manor.

It will have 3,000 permanent seats with the ability to increase to up to 15,000 for major events.

Barry Hearn the chairman of Leyton Orient, has claimed he would like his club to move into the 15,000 venue at Eton Manor after London 2012 but David Luckes, the London 2012 Head of Sport Competition and three times Hockey Olympian, told insidethegames that he is "confident" such a move won't happen and the planned hockey legacy at the venue will go ahead.

Applications for Olympic Hockey tickets can now be made at with prices ranging between £20 and £150 ($32 and $240).

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