McLean Park, Hawkes Bay’s hallowed rugby and cricket ground has been the venue for many iconic games over the years. There had been a few issues on the ground more recently however, including a washed-out Chappell - Hadlee clash between New Zealand and Australia in February 2017, when no balls were even bowled. The Council had programmed a renovation of the ground, but continued drainage issues necessitated the works to be undertaken sooner than planned.
Work started in April 2018 to rip up the turf and soil profile and replace it with a new hybrid (part artificial, part natural) grass surface, called MOTZ Eclipse. The original turf was composed of a sand / clay mix, which over time began to reduce the drainage capacity of the soil profile significantly. The existing soil profile was removed to a depth of 500 mm (9,000 m³ soil) down to the existing underlying subgrade, which was comprised of a mixture of original soils and harbour dredgings, which had been used to build the ground back in the early 1900s.
Compaction testing was undertaken by Opus prior to the installation of the Bidim A19 and Tensar TriAx160 products. Once the required levels were achieved, Bidim was placed on the subgrade, then a 200 mm deep raft of drainage gravel (3,500 m³) was added to house the subsoil and irrigation infrastructure. Bidim was used to create a separation layer between the subgrade and backfill, allowing fines to be retained, but still allowing the water to pass through. It is commonly used in sports fields including hockey, rugby, artificial turf, and golf courses.
Tensar Triax was laid directly above the Bidim to create a reinforcement layer for access vehicles. It was also laid in two separate areas of the ground that Council’s new drop-in pitch lifter would operate. This is required when the pitch area needs to be changed and this can be done without damage to the artificial turf.
Next, 260 mm of a specialist graded rooting sand was laid (5,000 m³) for the new 40 mm deep harvested turf to grow down into.
Megaflo flat panel drainage system was used to create a drainage path for excess water. Megaflo 450 was used as the main collector, with Megaflo 170 as lateral drains. The installation of the Megaflo 170 mm drainage layer was done at 6 m spacings, which involved the use of herring bone fittings to connect the 170 mm pipe to the main 450 mm pipe. End outlets were also used to create flushing points at the end of the Megaflo 170 pipe. A 200 mm aggregate layer (6 mm grading) incorporating the irrigation system (including sensors), followed by more sand (approx. 260 mm thick) and finally the Motz (Eclipse) artificial turf layer with sand.
Once all the turf was installed, a 5 tonne roller was used in two directions. The cricket pitch itself is composed of four sections, each weighing 1.7 tonnes (empty). When required each section can be lifted out to replace with new turf with a specialist lifting machine (40 tonne) on wide rubber tires
(approx. 30 m in length).
Due to the nature of the new turf, this will enable flexibility of the park for various events such as, Nitro Circus. The overall cost of the replacement will be approximately $4.9 million.
The first game was played on the renovated ground in August 2018, only 20 weeks after works started, a great result from all involved.