Local firm to grow hallowed turf

With the North Queensland Cowboys set to play their last ever game at 1300 SMILES on Thursday, the grass has never looked greener for their new home at the North Queensland Stadium.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni will today meet with Gumlow turf farmers Pat and Fabia Fortini, of Fortini Turf, who thanks to the North Queensland Stadium will expand their business into stadium supply for the first time.

“Building a world class stadium in Townsville has meant new opportunities for business development, with Fortini Turf being the latest, and arguably the highest profile of all,” Mr de Brenni said.

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart MP said Townsville tradies hadn’t been sitting around watching the grass grow either.

“With site activity is now at its peak, local tradies have been engaged on 92 per cent of the construction hours at the North Queensland Stadium.”

Fabia Fortini welcomed the opportunity to learn new processes at the family-owned turf farm at Gumlow, which has been operational for seven years.

“Growing the turf for the North Queensland Stadium, under the expert guidance of HG Sports Turf, means our team is learning new technology that is being applied in North Queensland for the first time,” she said.

“Our business is proud to be partnering with the government and the Cowboys to deliver a quality stadium for Townsville.”

Fortini Turf will grow 11,000 square metres of stabilised turf for the stadium in a single plot at Gumlow, just outside of Townsville.

Townsville-based Mendi Group who are coordinating the pitch works for the stadium have engaged sports field specialists HG Sports Turf to design the pitch, supply the ‘ready-to-play’ technology and oversee the establishment and management of the turf, which will be grown on the Fortini farm.

Mendi Group Director Jeff Doyle said he was pleased that Mendi had been able to employ over 70 local people and was already working to deliver earthworks and roadworks on site.

HG Sports Turf general manager Erik Kinlon said he was excited to bring the ‘ready-to-play’ turf to Townsville for the first time.

“HG Sports Turf has successfully delivered stadium playing surfaces, using our proprietary hybrid turf systems for over 20 years both here in Australia and globally and in some of the world’s most iconic stadiums,” Mr Kinlon said.

“We will be working closely with the team at Fortini Turf to ensure everything from the irrigation and fertiliser through to the harvesting, transport and installation is to international standards.”

Australian Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said that players and fans will be thrilled with the stadium pitch boasting top shelf turf technology, designed to be ready-to-play shortly after the turf is installed.

Federal Member for Hebert Phillip Thompson said he was proud that the Morrison Government was contributing $100 million to the project.

“It’s fantastic to see another milestone reached on this world-class stadium, which will be enjoyed by Townsville families for generations to come,” Mr Thompson said.

A patented system, developed by HG Sports Turf, combines natural grass as the playing surface with an underlying mesh of artificial fibres to create a vertically and horizontally stable turf.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the state-of-the-art turf would ensure the new Stadium was always ready to host a range of sporting, cultural and community events all year round.

“It’s not just elite sports that will benefit from the new Stadium, the unique turf means all sorts of events and organisations will be able to use this space, benefiting our whole community,” Cr Hill said.

The chosen grass – Greenlees Park Couch – is a hard-wearing semi-dwarf couch, with a deep root system and aggressive surface growth making it ideal for North Queensland conditions.

The North Queensland Stadium is a joint project of the Queensland Government, Australian

Government and Townsville City Council and is supported by both the National Rugby League and the North Queensland Cowboys. The project forms part of the Townsville City Deal signed in December 2016.