Hockey: Dunedin's second water turf more than welcome

Otago Hockey chief executive Chris Aubin stands on top of the remnants of the old sand-based turf...
Otago Hockey chief executive Chris Aubin stands on top of the remnants of the old sand-based turf at the McMillan Centre yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The $850,000 price tag for the new water-based turf at the McMillan Centre is worth every cent, Otago Hockey chief executive Chris Aubin says.

Construction is expected to be complete and the turf ready to host its first game by early to mid-March.

Aubin said it is a vast improvement on the previous sand-based turf, which was ripped up to make room.

"It is way superior," Aubin said. "The old sand-based turf was extremely abrasive . . . so it was pretty hard on the body."

Diving on it would result in bad grazes and burns which were painful and took months to heal, he added.

"It means that we are basically up with the play now. We had been falling behind [other venues]. Sand-based technology is 20 years old."It [water-based turf] is expensive but it's absolutely worth it. One artificial turf is the equivalent of 15 grass fields.

"You can play on them continuously in the wet or dry. You don't have share them with other codes and you can play at night under lights."

Having a second water-based turf meant the venue was now eligible to hold more events and Otago will host the Rankin Cup, the elite secondary school boys tournament, this year.

"If we didn't have two water turfs, we wouldn't have got it. Good quality hockey has to be played on good surfaces."

Aubin has not had any word whether the venue would host a test this year but he hopes to attract a men's international.

There will be a National Hockey League match between Southern and Canterbury in September but the remainder of the tournament will be hosted in Christchurch, to help cut costs.

While Aubin was pleased with the new turf, he joked hockey was "treading water" in the region.

Use of the two turfs would be at capacity and hockey was in bad need of another artificial surface, he said.

There are plans to build another when the Logan Park development goes ahead.

But progress has been glacial.

"We've been part of the Logan Park development for five years now and we certainly need another turf.

"As it is, there are certain teams which just can't practise on them because there is not enough turf time."


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