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Forum backs sports field funding

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An additional $10.3m of funding each year for the next 10 years is needed to upgrade sports field playing capacities across the region.

The Auckland Council Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum, has made a recommendation to council to invest more into sports field in Auckland.

"Increased funding for sports fields is a must," says Cr Sandra Coney, Chair of the Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum.

"Across the region sports teams - especially young players - are missing out. We need to meet rapidly increasing demand and provide playing surfaces that stand up to high use and Auckland's wet winters.

"In order to encourage physical activity and champion community engagement, we need to support more investment in the development of new playing fields and upgrading existing ones.

"This Forum is providing a strong recommendation that council consider increasing its funding for sports field development," she says.

A council officers' report to the Forum summarised recent work undertaken on a regional sports field supply and demand study, which looked at current and projected demand for the 777 winter sports fields in community use.

The sports field demand model calculates and matches field demand with field capacity and, after applying growth projections, is able to assess future capacity, surplus and shortfall issues. It projects that by 2021, the shortfall in sports field capacity across the region is expected to be 2,216 playing hours per week, primarily affecting training.

Mark Bowater, manager of local and sports parks, says this is a significant issue for the Auckland area, compounded by the wet winter climate, and the increasing levels of participation in sport.

"In order to provide sufficient additional playing capacity to meet the projected demand, significant investment is required in installing new artificial pitches at suitable locations, upgrading field drainage, and providing additional floodlit training fields to spread demand," he says.

The required level of capital investment has been assessed at over $10m per year. Alongside planned developments of undeveloped land, this would provide the required additional sports field playing capacity. This potential development would include 20 new artificial fields and 200-300 sand carpet field upgrades across the Auckland region.

Of the 20 artificial fields, half of these are required in the central Auckland area, four in the southern area and three each in the north and west.

The report will now go to the Regional Development and Operations Committee for a further decision as part of budget considerations for the Long Term Plan process, and is also being forwarded to all 21 Local Boards for their information and comment.

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