JOHN MINARDS is looking forward seeing Wakefield Trinity trot out for Reece Lyne’s testimonial – and not just because it provides the chance to acknowledge the centre’s long service.
For the Sunday, January 15 game against Halifax (2pm) will be the first of three pre-season outings on the new pitch, which has been laid as part of the redevelopment of the club’s historic Belle Vue (Be Well Support Stadium) home.
After visiting Leeds on Boxing Day (11.30am), Wakefield will also host neighbours Featherstone on Sunday, January 29 and Super League rivals Hull on Sunday, February 5 (both 2pm) as new coach Mark Applegarth and his assistant James Ford gear up for the 2023 season, which starts at home to Catalans Dragons on Friday, February 17.
After demolition of the old structure and subsequent groundworks, the framework for the new main East Stand (on the Doncaster Road side of the ground) is quickly taking shape, while work on redeveloping the North Terrace (nearest the city centre) is also under way.
But the currently most visible part of the upgrading of a venue which dates back to the 1870s is the fresh playing surface, which features an artificial underlay and helps promote root protection, turf strength and health and pitch longevity.
“In layman’s terms, it’s a carpet with 95 per cent soil and natural grass and some plastic strands on top,” explained Chairman Minards.
“Having considered our options, including a 4G (artificial) pitch, we decided on a hybrid, similar to that recently laid at Siddal, because it is still natural, but can cope with greater use, since the community element is key to our project.
“With the 2022 season finishing earlier than usual due to the World Cup, we had the maximum time to get the pitch down and established, and the weather over the last few months has been helpful in that regard.
“The pre-season matches will provide an excellent opportunity to test the surface and for our players to become familiar with it.”
On the completion date for the 2,500-capacity East Stand, which will include hospitality facilities and new changing rooms, Minards added: “You don’t like to give a definitive date, because you never know what can happen in terms of weather and the availability of materials.
“But the build is on target at this point, and we are optimistic that there will be at least partial if not full use at some stage of the 2023 season.”