The outside will soon match the inside at Central Oval, with Port Augusta City Council giving the green light to upgrade the playing turf.
Described as a “glorified cow paddock” by Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson, the announcement would come as music to the ears of sports people all over the region.
However, work on the oval is not set to commence until September 2019.
Council has agreed to complete the scoping, design and funding of the project in the 2018/19 financial year, with commissioning to begin in July 2019.
A motion put forward by Councillors Tony Mitchell and Mark Myers to seek external grant funding for the turf upgrade was also carried at the recent council meeting.
Mayor Johnson said those that use the oval have rightfully complained about its condition for some time.
“It is effectively a glorified cow paddock, so it’s only fair that it be upgraded to what it needs to be,” he said.
“I can appreciate that there is also an element of people that don’t want to see the upgrade because of the financial impost that goes with it, but it is one of those things that council needs to correct.”
Uneven surface levels, surface contours, fertility issues, irrigation issues and variable turf coverage were all listed as problems contributing to the poor state of the oval in a recent report.
Council must decide whether to completely or partially replace both the turf and irrigation system, while also looking into new fertilisation and watering techniques.
Mayor Johnson said that while the process may be “a bit painstaking”, it is important for council to discover the best long-term option for Central Oval.
“There is a bit more love and care that needs to go with it, hence why part of the rationale will include looking at what type of turf is fit for purpose, not just for the people using it, but also in respect to the climate we have as well,” he said.
“This is quite a big project and it has a lot of moving targets financially. We need to really understand what is the best and most sustainable option for council.”
Mayor Johnson said upgrading the turf would come with major benefits, with the AFL and SANFL both keen to host games at the complex in the future.
“It is the old saying that you’ve got to spend money to make money,” he explained.
“The AFL and SANFL come to us every year to say, ‘We are ready to schedule a game in Port Augusta, but you have to give us a turf that we can play on’.”