Work on a new hockey turf could start as soon as September, giving space for what is arguably Whangarei's fastest-growing sport.
Hockey Northland is delighted with the confirmed site and $1 million funding from the Whangarei District Council, board chairman Bill Shepherd says.
An ASB grant and $200,000 from Hockey Northland reserves means the tender process can start and base work can start in late September.
The turf will be ready for use at the end of January and will provide the equivalent of 11 grass grounds.
This will take pressure off organisers who struggle to offer turf time for practices and games, and the growing number of players, Hockey Northland chief executive Grant McLeod says.
"Scheduling has been a nightmare this season.
"We had two new men's teams and four new women's teams this season so finding time to schedule everyone has meant we've not been able to promote the sport to younger players in the district because we really couldn't accommodate them," he says.
"Our participation manager has been working primarily outside Whangarei district.
"That is great for the sport but we need the turf so we can continue to develop a quality player-base for the region while also providing for increased demand," Mr McLeod says.
Tiger Turf will provide the surface, which is a revolutionary water-efficient system.
Mr Shepherd says the surface is the best he's come across - and he's played on more than his fair share throughout his 50-year hockey career.
"The third turf will boost our ability to host national and international competitions like the Four Nations and under-21 tournaments that were held here earlier this year," he says.
"We'd like to get the national masters tournament in Northland - over 1000 people attend the masters and the tournament has the potential to generate more than $1m for the region."
Further funding will be needed to pay for lighting and dug-outs, which Mr Shepherd says is expected to be raised by the end of the year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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