Blue turf installation a breeze

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North Otago Recreational Turf Trust chairman Ray Simpson is feeling more than a bit blue – and he could not be happier about that.

That is because the trust’s $470,000 project to upgrade the playing turf to a modern shade of blue at Centennial Park, the home of the North Otago Hockey Association, was completed this week.

For the past 12 years, the trust has worked hard to raise funds for the upgrade, while it also secured funds from New Zealand Lotteries ($100,000), the Otago Community Trust ($95,000), the Lion Foundation ($15,000), the New Zealand Community Trust ($15,000), the Alexander McMillan Trust ($20,000) and the Waitaki District Council ($36,000).

In October, the original green turf, laid in 1999, was ripped up and a 25mm layer of asphalt laid over the original chip seal to level and seal playing area.

That was allowed to sit for a few weeks before a 10mm rubber-resin shock pad was laid and, finally, the new blue turf was installed.

“We’ve got basically a 30-year guarantee for the shock pad and a lifespan of about 15 years for the carpet, so next time there won’t be a shock pad required,” Mr Simpson said.

The recent spell of warm, dry weather meant the process, which took several days, had gone off without a hitch.

The turf was laid by Polytan NZ, and was similar to that used at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Features that set the new turf apart from the original are the fact that the field markings were manufactured on to the turf itself as opposed to being stitched on, and while the blue turf still needed to be watered, it was able played on when it was drier without the risk of damage.

Overall, Mr Simpson was impressed with the workmanship and quality of the new surface.

“It’s gone really well. We were a bit nervous when we were lifting it up about how it was all going to go and we only had the bare funding for the job, so there was no fat in the system.

“It’s been completed within budget, I think to a very high standard .. it’s not the first one they’ve laid.”

It was likely the first games would be played on the turf after Christmas when the hockey association’s summer league started.

Mr Simpson said an official opening was planned for February or March, and Black Sticks players would attend.

The bulk of the original turf would be re-used by those who pitched in to help rip it up.

“A lot of it has gone to schools and clubs. It was given away – they just had to supply the labour to lift it. There’s been very little dumped.”

He said East Otago High School and Ardgowan School would use the original turf for practices.

It was hoped the new surface would attract higher-grade tournaments and possibly international fixtures back to Oamaru.