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3 days ago
Suncorp Stadium's much maligned playing surface has been turned into mulch, less than five weeks before the Brisbane ground hosts a rugby union World Cup match.
The former Lang Park was christened "Sandcorp Stadium" when the sandy and patchy surface came under fire after a number of serious injuries in the first few matches staged at the redeveloped ground.
Work has started on replacing the not-so-hallowed turf, with the discarded grass to be used as mulch at the nearby Roma Street Parklands.
As the heavy machinery tore up the turf and spat it into the back of a truck, Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for Sport Terry Mackenroth said the decision to lay the new $1 million surface was not related to the spate of injuries at the ground.
But Mr Mackenroth admitted the playing surface at the ground, which reopened on June 1, had too much sand on it.
"It is the best stadium I believe in Australia, if not the world, for playing rugby league and rugby union but we're not happy with the field," he said.
"It's not the first field in the world to be replaced and it won't be the last."
Mr Mackenroth said a defect notice would be served on the stadium's builders by the Department of Public Works.
"We have issued a defect notice in relation to the field and that's an issue that will need to be sorted out," he said.
"Whilst we were able to produce a surface that we were able to play games on, it took a lot of work by our groundstaff."
Premier Peter Beattie said because Queensland would be on display to the world during the Rugby World Cup, the stadium must have the best possible surface.
"I don't think there's any big deal about putting a new surface down," Mr Beattie said.
Mr Mackenroth said the final decision to replace the turf was made after the final Brisbane Broncos home match of the season last Friday night.
He was confident the new surface, which has been grown at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, would be ready for the World Cup pool match between France and Fiji on October 11. In all, nine World Cup games will be played at Suncorp.
"We've been assured that it will, the turf will be down in 10 days and we'll be playing on it for the World Cup, you judge it after that," Mr Mackenroth said.
"We're putting this pitch down and it'll have nine games played on it in October/November and I'm sure at the end of that it'll be okay."
Suncorp Stadium CEO Geoff Donaghy said the new turf would have a "higher degree of stability".