Nearly $30 million is to be spent on creating all-weather playing fields for Auckland sports in the next three years in a bid to reduce winter games' cancellations and catch up with demand for field time as the city's population grows.
Rain damage and ground repair works forced cancellation of training and competition at one-in-five soil-based fields this winter.
But for one football club on the North Shore, the weather did not mean its usual string of field closures, disrupting 1200 players.
In May, two fields of artificial turf equipped with floodlights were completed at Ashley Reserve in the high-growth area of Long Bay.
"It's been fantastic for us and the other clubs who share it," said East Coast Bays AFC manager Marie Gisby.
"It will serve summer football during the week and cricket in the weekends."
The artificial fields were part of Auckland Council's sports fields capacity development programme which was prompted by the outcry over cancellations throughout Auckland in the wet winter of 2011.
Another all-weather-surface to open on the North Shore this winter as part of that $43 million improvement programme was at Greville Reserve.
Forrest Hill Milford AFC president Brian Haycock said the club had been allocated training space on the field along with rugby and rugby league.
Despite lacking the full international size, the club made full use of its lighting for senior football as well as for youth and women's teams.
"It's terrific for training and has taken a lot of pressure off our main grounds at Becroft Park, which get waterlogged in midwinter and closed.
"It's a resource for North Shore clubs and they have kids playing up there who would not have been able to kick a football around in the middle of winter."
Artificial fields expand a ground's use from 10 hours a week to 40 hours.
But they are expensive - about $1.5 million each.
Council acting general manager parks, sports and recreation Mark Bowater said that over the last three years, the council spent $43 million on increasing field capacity by 796 additional playing hours a week from 8544.
The list of works included 12.25 artificial turf fields, 53.5 sand carpet fields, 11 new soil fields, floodlights, and lowering field closures through irrigation and drainage improvements.
"This has been quite a successful programme for Auckland and it is making a difference in meeting demand with a population growing at 40,000 a year.
"It's aligned with the Auckland Plan values for a healthy community - getting people more active and enabling that to happen."
In the three-year programme from 2015-16, it was planned to spend $29.9 million to give an additional 443.5 hours a week for winter sports codes.
This included 2.5 artificial fields with floodlights, 36.75 sand carpet fields and 4.25 new fibre reinforced or hybrid technology sand carpet fields.
Mr Bowater said no artificial turf fields would be built in 2015-16 because each project took two to three years for planning, design, getting resource consents and building.
Hybrid technology gave a stable turf surface and could be an acceptable alternative for the artificial turf in some cases where community sport needed a boost in capacity.
It was a natural grass field growing on sand set in a fibre mat frame and did not need to be enclosed with a fence, which made it more acceptable to people wanting to preserve the open space of parks.
It cost about 60 to 70 per cent of a full synthetic pitch.
However, it was uncertain as to the level of play that the hybrid technology sand carpet fields would withstand during an Auckland winter.
For this reason the council was extending its trial of the technology with installation on 2.25 fields at Nixon Park, in Kingsland and Gribblehirst Park in Mt Albert.