Children playing soccer on Nairnville Park's artificial sportsfield
Growing demand and changing weather patterns are putting the city's grass fields under increasing pressure, resulting in more cancellations and increasing frustration for players and their supporters. To address that, we plan to build six more artificial fields over the next 10 years, including this latest one which will replace the somewhat dilapidated upper car park area behind Te Whaea: The National Dance and Drama Centre in Hutchison Road.
Councillors approved the $1.5 million project in June as part of its Long-term Council Community Plan. Resource consent has just been granted and the main contractor, Wilkinson Civil, will be on site from Tuesday 1 December. All going well, the field should be ready for use by about May next year.
The Council's project manager, Bruce Moorman, says the area where the new pitch is being developed was a sportsfield until 1970, when it was converted to a car park for the former showgrounds.
"Converting it back allows us to provide a fantastic new asset for the city and help address the growing demand for sportsfields that can be used in all weathers. Artificial surfaces can withstand more play than even the most robust and well-drained grass fields," he says.
The new full-sized field will be primarily used for community sport, but is being built to specifications so it can potentially be used for FIFA and IRB approved games. A variety of sports will benefit, including football, rugby union and rugby league, as well as recreation and school programmes. The pitch is also likely to supplement adjacent Rugby League Park as a training venue during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The Mt Cook field will be fully fenced, lit so it can be used in the evening and have a warm-up area. The existing car parking area between Hutchison Road and the Dance and Drama Centre will be upgraded and include an area near the pitch where players can be dropped off and picked up. There will be just one exit and entry to the car park from Hutchison Road.
"We'll also be recycling the pavilion from Cobham Park, where the Indoor Community Sports Centre is to be built, and relocating it beside the new artificial turf to provide changing rooms, toilets and showers," says Bruce.
The Mt Cook field will be the city's third sportsfield with an artificial surface. A three-quarter size pitch, which opened at Nairnville Park this year, is being used for training and competition games and has proved very popular with players. The other is at the National Hockey Stadium on Mt Albert and only used for hockey.