Council chief takes a multi-million-dollar punt

POWER: Andrew Johnson, hardhat in hand, launches the ball. The turf was cut for the first time on Sunday and the slab is ready for the function centre..

POWER: Andrew Johnson, hardhat in hand, launches the ball. The turf was cut for the first time on Sunday and the slab is ready for the function centre..

Council chief executive officer Andrew Johnson took a multi-million-dollar punt on Friday.

With new grass rolled out on the expanses of the re-aligned Memorial Oval, he let rip with the first kick of the football on the fresh surface.

Dr Johnson said he “couldn’t resist” the opportunity to make history as the $22 million project continues.

He claimed the honour for his beloved Port Adelaide Football Club.

Port Pirie Regional Council, with financial support from the state and federal governments, is developing a multi-use sport hub at the oval and swimming centre.

The lush green surface of the new oval has been given its first trim.

Two ride-on mowers did laps of the arena on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the concrete slab for the function centre has been laid.

The Rotary Club of Port Pirie toured the development.

The group went the grandstand for a view of the oval which at that time had 80 to 90 percent of the grass laid.

Project manager Jeff Adams explained that the oval has been re-oriented about a quarter round.

About 20,000 square metres of grass was laid. There is a one-percent fall from the middle out to the boundary. Mega-flow drainage is around the oval and cricket pitch area. The oval will be about 30 metres shorter than previously.

It can be marked in three different positions to rest the goal squares. There are 125 sprinklers, all individually controllable.

The cricket pitch has a special system and Santa Anna couch grass. The oval will have full LED lighting to AFL standard.

A white plastic picket fence will go around the oval. Domed, clear perspex inter-change benches are likely. About 1700 seats from Football Park have been sourced, 200 of which will go to Port Football Club.

There will be 65 car parks around the oval with other spaces available set back. Two earth berms are being constructed on the eastern side, partly because EPA required that all soil stay on-site.

The score-board will go in the north-eastern corner, be LED, and likely about 6 metres x 3 metres.

Communications conduits have been laid around the oval, some of them “just in case”.

There will be full disabled access up to the boundary fence. A path will lead across to the aquatic centre. The grandstand will gain a new roof and ceiling lined to dissuade the pigeons.

Each bay of the new function centre will be 4.7 metres apart, mirroring the 4.7 metres between columns on the old grandstand.

The two buildings will complement each other and look like one from the other side.

The first green at the bowling club has had synthetic turf laid and will be played on soon. The B green will go down soon followed quickly by the green for the croquet club.

A new clubroom for croquet is still to be placed on-site. The first slab has been poured at the aquatic centre with stage two soon. It will have more than 2000 square metres of floor space.