More Artificial Sportsfields

7 July 2009

The weather might be beyond our control, but we are doing our best to bail out the city's waterlogged sportsfields with a plan to build more pitches with artificial turf.

Onslow Grade 8 Swanseas on the artificial turf at Nairnville Park.

Onslow Grade 8 Swanseas on the artificial turf at Nairnville Park.

At least six more artificial turf sportsfields will be built in Wellington city, more than anywhere else in the country, over the next 10 years to help overcome the cancellations that frustrate players and supporters.

Over the past four to six weeks, grass sportsfields citywide have been affected by the continuing wet weather making it impossible for parks staff to do necessary maintenance work and forcing the cancellation or transfer of games and training.

Council Parks and Gardens Manager Paul Andrews says May and June have been colder and wetter than usual with rain on 27 days in May alone. "Our fields are waterlogged and aren't getting a chance to dry out. This means we have had to restrict the amount of play and training on them even when recent Saturdays have been fine," he says.

"It's frustrating for everyone, but with two more months of winter ahead, we need to manage them carefully.

"The cooperation we've been receiving from sports clubs and groups is appreciated and will help keep our sportsfields in the best shape possible."

But the Council's new three-quarter-size artificial turf pitch at Nairnville Park is a success story - and last week the Council approved funding for another six artificial pitches over the next 10 years.

The six new turf fields will cost $10 million to develop and a further $3 million to operate.

The Nairnville pitch opened in April and is being used for training and competition games in all weathers.

The turf is made of 65mm long fibres with rubber infill and an underlying safety rubber shock pad.

The fibres of the turf are made from polyethylene, providing a realistic-looking surface with a similar feel to natural grass but without the grass burns. Nairnville Park is the city's second artificial turf pitch and the first to be used for rugby and football. The other pitch is at the National Hockey Stadium on Mt Albert.

Paul says artificial surfaces can withstand more play than even the most robust and well-drained grass pitch and planning is well under way for the next one.

Work is expected to start on a full-sized artificial pitch in the upper car park at the former Wellington show grounds in Mt Cook later this year and should be finished in time for next year's winter sports season.

Another five pitches are planned between 2013 and 2019, though the Council is talking with potential partners, such as schools and sporting organisations, in the hope of speeding up the installation programme.

"The New Zealand Community Trust kindly contributed just over half the cost of the pitch at Nairnville and we hope other organisations will see the benefits of contributing to projects like this too," Paul says.

To find out which grounds are closed, phone (04) 801 4134 - information is updated at 8.00am and 1.00pm daily.