After more than 30 years in the business it amazes me how little thought or provision goes into the long term sustainability of synthetic turf facilities by clubs.
Most clubs rely on funding from some avenue or other in order to develop a facility, struggle for years with little or no maintenance and then have to ask for further funding for new surfaces when they wear out.
It is accepted that there is a cost in putting on matches, ground preparation, umpires league fees etc. and this is reflected in annual subscriptions and match fees. When it comes to winter nets because these are hired from other bodies players think nothing of forking out three, four and even five pounds for an hours use.
However, when it comes to outdoor nets they are seen as part of the ground and in the main used for free with no thought to the upkeep and provision for future users.
If users were charged just £1.00, far less than indoor nets, then with an average of 12 users per lane, three nights a week for 16 weeks this little charge would bring in almost seven thousand pounds over the twelve year life span of a good quality woven surface. This would pay for repairs and maintenance over this period and provide a substantial proportion of replacement costs.
Clubs running a couple of adult sides and two or three junior sides might be looking at four nights use per week and with 20 weeks in the cricket season the potential income is actually greater.
As mentioned without this provision over the years clubs look again to grants for refurbishments and this affects other clubs as money spent on refurbishments might mean another club without facilities is unable to develop their ground.
Multiple bays of practice facilities are less easy to sustain as the usage level has to rise proportionally in order to maintain income levels, but a club running two or three adult sides and a junior side at four age levels should easily occupy a double bay sufficiently for the funding to maintain it to be raised.
As such a set up would have spare capacity for a fourth adult side or a fourth age group with good management of the use it is difficult to see how any club would require any more than a double bay taking into account both use and sustainability.
Verde Sports Cricket Ltd