News | 25 July 2017

Sodden sportsfields restricting play this winter

Some of Wellington’s traditional grass sportsfields are being turned into sodden bogs this winter – and sportspeople face the prospect of further match restrictions as Wellington City Council seeks to provide playable sportsfields for the remaining winter season.

Sodden sportsfield

“Most of our grass fields are on the way to turning into mud baths especially after last weekend’s restricted play on them. And with more wet weather forecast for later this week, it’s likely we’ll have to restrict grounds again or close many of the fields as they will be unplayable,” says the Council’s Parks, Sports and Recreation Manager, Paul Andrews.

“Most people have probably forgotten how wet the summer was – but that’s been followed by a wet autumn. We had more than 200 millimetres of rain in April compared to the average of 94 mm.

“July is sitting at 171 ml compared to the average of 110 mm.”

Mr Andrews says even the city’s premier fields – with sand bases and other advanced drainage – are saturated and starting to suffer.

With about five weeks of winter sport left, the likelihood is that there’ll be rationing of matches on grass pitches. “We’ll do everything we can to get games played and are working closely with the Regional Sporting Codes – but inevitably there’ll be restrictions if this rain keeps up.”

The lack of wind is also not helping to dry them out. “Our ultimate goal is to get games played and we will do everything we can to make this happen. Maximising the artificials is key at this time of year.”

Mr Andrews says even basic tasks such as line marking and mowing are virtually impossible at the moment, given the soft and slippery ground conditions.

Acting Mayor Paul Eagle, the Council’s Recreation Portfolio Leader, says the good news is the Council’s multi-million dollar investment in 8 artificial-turf sportsfields over the past decade has been a lifesaver for winter sports.

“Despite the high rainfall this year, the disruption has been far less than in the bad old days when most sports could be cancelled for weeks on end for fear that someone could disappear into the mud, never to be found.”