Blue Mountains rationalises sports field use based on capacity study

The sustainable management of Council sports fields is becoming increasingly important as demand by communities increases, and the asset value and safety of the fields diminishes with overuse.

Over recent years the users of Lower Blue Mountains sports fields have become increasingly dissatisfied with the condition and availability of the sports fields.  As a result, Blue Mountains City Council commissioned Storm Consulting to investigate and advise on carrying capacity and related issues for sports fields.  Storm teamed with AgEnviro Solutions to undertake the work.

The playing fields were assessed with almost all measurements well within the acceptable playing surface standards with regard to hardness, traction and evenness. Despite this, overuse occurs on some of the fields and some of these problems could be overcome by improvements to the fields and relocation of play.  Recommendations to shift around various users, to install lighting on fields

However, the main finding is that the lower BM playing fields cannot collectively handle the hours of sport they receive each week during winter.  A booking schedule was proposed that adjusts the hours booked in relation to the amount of wear that occurs as a result of the activity.  In this manner, sporting clubs can obtain greater hours of usage by being proactive and adopting practices that reduce wear or spread wear more evenly.

In addition, it was found that five additional turf fields or two synthetic fields are required to sustainably meet existing demands.

Sports field assessment is a highly technical process involving a deep understanding of soil type and condition, turf, agronomy and irrigation.  This type of assessment should be standard for all sports fields managers.  It takes the heat off Council staff who are often perceived as poor managers of the issue, and who are always in the firing line for their decisions.  And it improves the condition and asset value of sports fields for the community.