New Artificial Turf Sportsfield Gets Go-ahead

30 September 2010

A third - and possibly fourth - artificial-turf sportsfield for Wellington City could be ready for use by next winter following decisions at last night's City Council meeting.

At least one new full-size artificial pitch could be installed at Wakefield Park in Island Bay thanks to the commitment of a minimum of $500,000 in private funding to the project.

The Council also voted to approve an upgrade of drainage and installation of sand-based turf on Kilbirnie Park.

City Councillor John Morrison, the Council's Recreation Portfolio Leader, says last night's decisions will be fantastic news for thousands of sportspeople and parents who have faced "almost endless cancellations" this winter.

Cr Morrison told the meeting that he has worked with the sports community in the past few weeks to raise $500,000 in private funding to help 'fast-track' the start of construction on a new full-size artificial pitch at Wakefield Park in Island Bay.

As a result the Council agreed to bring forward some $1.075 million in capital-expenditure funds - allocated for spending in 2012/13 under the long-term council community plan. The money would be spent in this 2010/11 financial year to build the new pitch as soon as possible.

Following a successful amendment proposed by Mayor Kerry Prendergast, the Council also agreed to bring forward funding for a second pitch at Wakefield Park - if another $500,000 in external funding is confirmed.

Last night's meeting also heard that Council officers are in discussions with Wellington College and St Patrick's College about partnership opportunities aimed at installing artificial pitches at both schools.

The Council considered a report that outlined the growing problems caused for local sports codes by the impact of wet weather on the city's grass sports grounds.

Cr Morrison said the city's grounds were unable to deal with growing demand from sports codes and that the relentlessly wet weather meant grounds had to be closed regularly, especially over the past winter.

The wear and tear on the grass surfaces also meant that re-sowing and other work to prepare the grounds for summer sports has also been delayed and compromised.

The Council report mentioned that Capital Football has advised that in one league alone during the 2010 winter season, of the 451 games scheduled for the full season, 173 (38.3 %) were cancelled due to poor ground conditions.

Additionally many rugby and football teams were only able to train 3 or 4 times during the 2010 winter season on city sportsfields. This frustrates coaches, players, parents and administrators and means there are reduced opportunities to develop skills.

In contrast, the new artificial fields at Nairnville Park (opened April 2009) and Wellington Showgrounds (opened May 2010) operated at capacity - up to 60 hours a week - during the winter months. All codes have been allocated games and they have contributed to a much lower cancellation rate than would have been the case without them.

The report noted greatly increasing demand from sports groups - particularly football. Between 2007 and 2010 the number of Capital Football junior football teams in Wellington City increased from 299 teams to 395 teams (32.1% increase). During the same time period, Capital Football senior football teams in Wellington City increased from 142 teams to 166 teams (16.9% increase).