New hockey turfs could cost council $1 million

A $1m capital budget for replacing Dunedin’s Logan Park hockey turfs and transferring ownership of them to the city council will be proposed to residents.

If the proposal is confirmed, the two ageing artificial playing surfaces will be replaced in the 2024-25 financial year.

The Dunedin City Council would pick up ownership of the water-based turfs at the McMillan Hockey Centre and the associated irrigation system from Otago Hockey in the current plan.

Councillors had a wide-ranging discussion about options and sports facilities generally at a meeting this week before they backed the plan as their preferred option for public consultation.

Cr Lee Vandervis had his vote recorded against, saying arguments for "putting hockey ahead of everybody else" did not add up.

The council is also working on a management plan for the Logan Park area and it was considered the ownership transfer could help promote "an integrated planning approach".

The turfs had been described as being past their use-by date, making Dunedin less attractive as a tournament host.

Cr Andrew Whiley said questions remained about the way forward, but he wanted tournaments to continue coming to Dunedin.

Funding channels for various organisations were "extremely tight and shrinking", he said.

Cr Steve Walker said sport was fundamental for health and wellbeing within the city.

He also supported a more integrated approach for managing facilities.

There was a suggestion some hockey might have to revert to being played on grass if an upgrade did not proceed soon.

The council would not have space for this on its grass fields.

Cr Bill Acklin said any sport played on an artificial turf freed up a lot of grass turf for other sports.

A Hockey New Zealand spokesman said several national tournaments had been hosted in Dunedin in recent years.

The hosting and event experience from Otago Hockey was excellent but the age of the turfs meant they were not fit for purpose to host top domestic events, he said.

There had been participant feedback about the age of the turfs, "as well as our own observations during the national tournaments we have played there".

"The facilities provide an amazing community asset for people to engage in hockey but the turfs, based on their age and level of usage, are beyond their useful life."

It was difficult for Hockey New Zealand to allocate top-tier events to a facility that "currently doesn’t provide a quality surface for our best nationally based athletes to perform on".