Crunch time nears as hockey turfs past their best, DCC told

Hockey turf at Logan Park in need of replacing. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Hockey turf at Logan Park in need of replacing. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Hockey playing surfaces in Dunedin have been described as well past their best and crunch time is nearing for their replacement.

The two water-based artificial turf surfaces at Logan Park were now "past their useful life", a report for the Dunedin City Council said.

Otago Hockey’s position was both turfs at the McMillan Hockey Centre were becoming difficult and costly to repair and "increasingly dangerous to play on", the council report said.

Dunedin was becoming a less viable host for national tournaments and failure to get moving on replacing the turfs could lead to a request for some hockey to be played on grass, it was indicated.

The council is to discuss this week whether meeting the cost of turf replacement should be included in its 2024-25 draft annual plan for public consultation and, if so, how.

It may assume ownership of the playing surfaces.

Council staff recommended the council take over ownership of the turfs and replace them in the 2024-25 financial year.

Other options were to provide grant funding in a lump sum, annual grants or not fund the turf replacement.

The cost was quoted at between $685,000 and $950,000 when a submission was made to the council’s 2023-24 draft annual plan.

The existing surfaces were installed in 2009 and 2012.

They are considered to have a life expectancy of 10 years.

It had been estimated the turfs were booked for 130 hours a week during the hockey season, from early morning into the night.

A third artificial turf in the city was constructed in 2021, at King’s High School, accommodating growth in the sport.

Dunedin has about 2700 registered hockey players.

Otago Hockey general manager Andy McLean said the Logan Park playing surfaces were below the required standard for competitive hockey.

"Both of the turfs at the McMillan Hockey Centre are past their useful life and therefore well past their best", he said.

"Our own community suffers due to this lack of suitable surface being provided and, importantly, the current standard of the playing surfaces is not at the required standard to attract significant tournaments and events to the city."

Mr McLean said Otago Hockey was engaged in discussions with the city council about provision of quality sporting facilities.

"Once replaced, the maintenance required on hockey turfs is not significant and predominantly revolves around occasional grooming and spraying", he said.

In 2022, Dunedin hosted the National Hockey Championship, which attracted 35 teams.

Last year, the national under-18 boys’ tournament was played in the city.

There had since been indications of reluctance to return top-tier tournaments to Dunedin until the turfs had been replaced.

A schools’ second-XI tournament was allocated to Dunedin for this year.