Kick-Off at New Artificial Pitches this Saturday

4 July 2011

Two full-size, all-weather artificial sportsfields will be officially opened at Wakefield Park, Island Bay, on Saturday 9 July to further ease pressure on Wellington's grassed sports grounds.

The $3 million transformation of the two previously grassed football pitches has created an upgraded facility suitable for a variety of sports including football, rugby union and league, rugby sevens and touch rugby.

Lighting has been installed above one of the fields so it can be used for evening practice sessions and matches.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who will officially open the all-weather sportsfields at 10.00am on Saturday, says the upgraded grounds provide a superb playing surface and will significantly ease the pressure on the city's and region's sports grounds.

"The huge increase in people playing sport coupled with the perennial challenge of managing Wellington's grass fields through the winter means our sports grounds are often under pressure.

"The two upgraded fields will help relieve some of that pressure. The all-weather surface means that grounds can be used for training and games for more than 60 hours a week in high demand times over the weekend and weekday evenings. In comparison, grassed sports fields are often only usable for six to 12 hours a week.

"When the two artificial surfaces were opened in the 1980s at the National Hockey Stadium in Mount Albert, it freed up 14 sportsfields around the city to cater for growth in football at the time."

Cr John Morrison, the Council's Sports and Events Portfolio Leader, says as well as providing top-class surfaces for winter competition and training, the upgraded facility will also be the ideal venue for end-of-season and summer touch rugby, sevens and football tournaments.

"These two surfaces will be a wonderful asset for the sporting community of Wellington and I'm proud to have been part of the process that will see these superb sportsfields officially opened on Saturday."

While the fields will be predominantly used for local sport, they are FIFA- and IRB-certified, meaning they can be used for top-level matches.

The six-month project has involved building a well compacted base with an extensive drainage system, levelling the area and laying a rubber shock-absorbing pad and then the artificial turf.

About 5,000 cubic metres of fill was removed from the site and used to level Southgate and Sinclair parks - increasing the availability of these grounds during the winter.

Financing the project has been a community effort, with Council funding supplemented by generous support from:

  • New Zealand Community Trust
  • Island Bay United Football Club
  • Capital Football
  • Wellington Rugby Football Union
  • Wellington Community Trust.

Saturday's opening will include a junior football player development programme on one field, followed by scheduled games.

As well as the National Hockey Stadium, all-weather surfaces have been built in the last two years behind the Show Buildings in Newtown and at Nairnville Park in Khandallah.

Cr Morrison says the feasibility of opening all-weather grounds is being looked at for Alex Moore Park in Johnsonville and a park in the Tawa - Grenada area. In addition, negotiations are under way with Wellington and St Patrick's colleges about creating college community partnerships to have all-weather surfaces installed at the schools.

Artificial Sportsfield Services - Overview