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Football celebration for opening of Logan Park Turf
The facility came about in the wake of Dunedin hosting 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup matches at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Then Football South chairman Matthew Holdridge championed hosting those matches, with the hope Fifa would leave a legacy in the city.
Wright was subsequently recruited to bring the project to fruition by securing the initial funds from Fifa.
‘‘Once we secured the Fifa funding, it showed that they’re willing to invest in this facility, and others could be part of it too,’’ Wright says. ‘‘New Zealand Football really had our back on it, so they were big advocates of us to Fifa.’’
Initially the plan was for one artificial field, but it soon became evident that two, with one a multisport turf, would make funding more viable.
As well as Fifa, the Dunedin City Council, the Lottery Community Facilities Fund, Lottery Significant Projects Fund, Otago Community Trust, McMillan Trust, Lion Foundation, New Zealand Football Foundation, and the Highlanders all contributed.
Securing the funding was challenging, as was securing the Logan Park site. Construction began early this year, and the facility was ready for use as the winter season drew to a close.
The technology is unique, meeting both Fifa and IRB requirements. Players are enjoying playing and practising on the new turf.
‘‘There’s been a huge amount of positive feedback about the quality of the surface,’’ Wright says.
As well as Juan Pablo Angel, who lit up the English Premier League with Aston Villa during the 2000s, other football luminaries will be present this weekend.
Among them are former All White and now Football South chairman Graham Marshall, former Dunedin All White Mike McGarry, former Football Fern Michelle Cox, and NZ Football’s president, Johanna Wood; CEO, Andy Pragnell; and technical director, Andy Boyens. Tonight they’ll attend a Football South black-tie dinner.
‘‘It’s a bit of football celebration this weekend,’’ Wright says. ‘‘It’s not often you get the opportunity for people of Juan Pablo Angel’s level to come to New Zealand.’’
Wright says that football continues to grow in Dunedin, and with the Logan Park Turf now open, the game is in great health in the city.