'Grass will grow in stadium'

The success of an experiment designed to discover whether grass would grow under the roof of Forsyth Barr Stadium has its developers expecting there will be only limited restrictions on the stadium's use.

The Carisbrook Stadium Trust set up a test rig in the car park next to Carisbrook in August 2007, with a ethylene tetrafluoroethylene roof similar to the one planned for the stadium.

With the rig now almost two years old, trust development director Darren Burden said the tests had been successful.

"To boil it down to simple facts, the outcome of the testing is that grass will grow in the stadium."

Mr Burden said fully scientific experimentation had finished after winter last year, and the rig was now being used to check what turf management techniques would be required; for instance what fertiliser was best to use.

The rig had also been used to discover how the turf would react with no light, and large curtains had been placed around it for that test.

"We're trying to go through the learning curve in advance."

The trust had expected to have issues in winter with low sunlight, as occurred at Carisbrook, but the results from scientific testing were better than expected, he said.

"Because we were able to control the water [inside the rig] we had a bog outside, and nice, steady turf inside."

Asked what restrictions there might be on the use of the ground, Mr Burden said they would be "minor", and comparable to other stadiums.

It would not be sensible to hold, for instance, a rugby test, a concert and a visit by the Crusty Demons all in the same couple of weeks.

"The two months of winter will be a reasonably sensitive time," he said, but "the restrictions will be relatively minor, as you would have at any other stadium".

The stadium would have areas at either end for concerts that were "flat slabs" meaning the turf would not necessarily need to be used in those situations.

Mr Burden said the turf was expected to be laid in the stadium in early 2011.

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