Growing demand and changing weather patterns are putting the city's grass fields under increasing pressure, resulting in repeated cancellations and frustration for players and their supporters.
To address that, the Council plans to build six more artificial fields over the next 10 years, including this latest one which will replace the upper car park area behind Te Whaea: The National Dance and Drama Centre in Hutchison Road.
The Council 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.
Councillor John Morrison, the Council's Portfolio Leader for Recreation, says wet winters and water-logged fields are resulting in cancelled games, sometimes week after week, which can be immensely frustrating and disappointing for everyone involved.
"Sports organisations around the city are keen to see more of these all-weather surfaces installed as quickly as possible, so it is fantastic news that this one is about to get under way," he says. "The Council wants people to keep active and providing more sportsfields with artificial turf is one of the ways we can help make sure that happens."
Cr Morrison 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 the under-utilised site back will relieve the pressure on existing fields and provide a great new asset for the city. Artificial surfaces are able to handle more play than the best well-drained grass fields."
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, 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 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.
The pavilion from Cobham Park, where the new Indoor Community Sports Centre is to be built, will be relocated beside the new artificial turf to provide changing rooms, toilets and showers.
The Newtown 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.