The opening of phase one of a $1.5 million netball court redevelopment is being described as a huge positive for Rotorua, but there is concern about the ongoing maintenance of the courts.
Rotorua Lakes Council started work on the courts in March 2017 but the work really got underway when the season finished in October.
Phase one was complete in late February and saw a special sporting surface called Rebound Ace added to eight of the courts. Umpire lines and spectator areas were also added.
The eight courts were officially opened at a ceremony on Saturday.
Netball Rotorua secretary Mary Thompson said the old courts were asphalt and the new surface was an improvement.
"It's a much better surface for our players and reduces the risk of ankle and knee injuries which older netballers say they've suffered because of the jarring of the asphalt courts."
But the surface also requires more care.
"We've got great concerns about the way people are going to look after the courts, it's going to be much more difficult to maintain them than asphalt," Thompson said.
"We want the public to be very aware they've got to look after our courts. They are for the public and they have got to look after them.
"We don't want bikes, scooters or chewing gum on them, or umbrella tips."
Thompson said the upgrade was overdue.
"Our courts have been down for 22 years. Something had to be done because it was deteriorating so badly. We decided if we were going to have it resurfaced we may as well go for something we could use for a while."
Phase two of the upgrade will see the special surface added to the other courts, likely at the end of the 2018 season.
The redevelopment also sees the number of courts reduced from 20 to 16.
The total cost of the project is expected to be $1.58 million split over the two stages.
Rotorua Lakes Council contributed $570,000 for the completed civil works to extend the footprint of the facility and upgrade drainage.
The rest of the cost was covered by grants from trusts and organisations, and fundraising by Netball Rotorua.
Some external funding is still to be sourced to complete the second stage of the upgrade.
Thompson said the club didn't believe a reduction in the number of courts would have a negative effect.
"We hope we'll still be able to cope with the numbers," she said.
"And on the positive side the courts are much nicer."
Councillor Charles Sturt, the sport and recreation portfolio lead, said the upgrade meant the facility would meet the needs of the sport "now and into the future".
"This upgrade is part of our efforts to ensure that our community has great recreational spaces that cater to the needs of our district," Sturt said.
"Netball has always played a key role in our community, both in keeping the sport alive and strong in Rotorua and in contributing to the local economy."
The development was a result of a submission to the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan.
The netball season begins on April 7.
- Civil work including upgrading drainage, extending footprint and retaining walls.
- Resurface premier courts.
- Install new and upgrade existing lights.
- New netball poles on the premier courts.
- Layout and number of courts changed.
- Resurface non-premier courts and new poles.
Rotorua Lakes Council