With the winter sports season underway, the recent completion of two refurbished artificial playing fields at College Rifles Park couldn’t have come at a better time.
The $1.855 million upgrade by College Rifles Rugby Union Football & Sports Club of its Remuera-based grounds was enabled with the help of a $750,000 Sport and Community Partnership Grant from Auckland Council.
Ōrākei Ward Councillor Desley Simpson was on hand to cut the ribbon to officially open the refurbished fields, which are a vital part of the region’s sports field network.
“The College Rifles grounds are a hub for the Ōrākei community and wider Auckland, with players from across the region using them.
“We need to maintain and grow the number of sports fields as Auckland grows so people can enjoy sport and keep physically fit.”
The fields needed to be upgraded to meet new standards so they could continue to have rugby played on them. The grounds are also used by other sports including touch, soccer, lacrosse and local community and school groups.
“As with the rest of Auckland, there is high demand for sports fields in Ōrākei and central east Auckland and without these upgrades around 74 hours of playing time could have been lost,” says Cr Simpson.
Partnering for community sport
The grounds and buildings at College Rifles Park in Haast Street are privately owned by the College Rifles Rugby Union Football and Sports Club, although the grounds are an integral part of Auckland Council’s sports field network. More than 15,000 participants use club’s facilities each year across a variety of sports.
In the central east area of Auckland the two fields account for around 25 per cent, or 74 of the area’s 291 hours, of rugby and training capacity in the area.
By partnering with college rifles on this project means that Auckland Council still has the capacity in the network rather than having to find something an alternative site – which would have been a lot more costly.
“I was extremely pleased to be able to support College Rifles to obtain that council grant to allow this project to move ahead,” says Cr Simpson.
College Rifles general manager Keith Ratcliffe says the upgrade is much appreciated by the club, which has been an integral part of the community since 1897.
“Without Councillor Simpson's input there was the very real possibility that we would have lost our fields to the local and wider Auckland community. We are extremely grateful for her support throughout the process.”
The decision for the grant from Parks, Sport and Recreation Partnership Fund was approved by the Environment and Community Committee in May 2018.