It may be just a few days old, but the new turf at McLean Park in Napier was getting it's first mow yesterday as contractors worked towards handing the stadium back to the Napier City Council at the end of next week.
The council's McLean Park webcam late yesterday afternoon showed a mower and roller in action on the hybrid turf, the laying of which was completed last week in the most dramatic stage of a $4.9 million, four-month-long drainage system and turf replacement.
The rugby goalposts are expected to be installed tomorrow or Friday, but the new turf's first taste of sprigged boots is not expected until the first few days of next month.
The Hawke's Bay Magpies play their first two Mitre 10 Cup national provincial rugby championship matches against Southland and Otago on a six-day lower South Island tour later this month and return to Hawke's Bay with at least one training session expected to be held on McLean Park before the first match on the new turf, against Counties Manukau, on the afternoon of September 2.
The oval replacement started on April 9, three days after a Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and South African side the Sharks and includes a drop-in block for a cricket pitch, stored at nearby Nelson Park to be used transported across Latham St for three international matches during the summer, and other matches in the future.
The park has been off the international cricket schedule since drainage issues forced the abandonment of a prime one-day Chappell Hadlee Trophy match between New Zealand's Black Caps and Australia in February last year.
First used in 1914, McLean Park has seen international events in rugby, cricket, rugby league, football, hockey, athletics and soccer, as well as brass band, highland and marching championships, greyhound racing, and major public events such Napier centennial celebration and royal tour welcomes, including one which featured a display by shearing legend Godfrey Bowen.