For more information about Wells projects
Yarrow stadium, formerly Rugby Park is situated in the central suburb of Westown in New Plymouth, New Zealand. The stadium capacity is 25,000 people and is home to the Taranaki Rugby Football Union, as well as hosting the Hurricanes Super Rugby team and All Blacks test matches. But it wasn’t always that way...
Back when Yarrow stadium was known as Rugby Park, all games were NPC afternoon games, there were no All blacks games played, and no Super Rugby Games.
As rugby became professional around 1995/6, the NZRU developed minimum guidelines for stadiums hosting NPC games, Sky TV preferred night games from a viewership perspective, and so night games, as opposed to afternoon games, became the new norm for the competition schedule.
From a TRFU perspective without the lighting, they wouldn’t have been able to host games at all. From a commercial perspective, and for local fans wanting to watch their NPC team it was really important that the stadium have good quality lighting and infrastructure to meet the new standards.
In 1998 Wells won a tender to design and install the floodlighting for the stadium. The goal was to have the floodlighting installed and ready for the Opening game of the Rugby Super 12 competition, however the project was postponed at the last minute on the grounds that it was not believed it could be completed in time. Wells knew otherwise, and spearheaded a group of contractors to put a proposal forward, committed to achieving what was believed to be “the impossible” ... TV-quality floodlighting within 7 weeks.
Ten kilometres of cable were installed in only seven weeks and 22,000 man-hours. An extraordinary triumph against all odds...
Judging Panel - 1999 National Electrical Energy Awards
Once given the go-ahead, the main contractors, led by Wells, swung into action, pulling out all the stops, calling on all available resources, and implementing numerous outside-the-square approaches to achieve the goal. Floodlight tower construction was undertaken in shifts running both night and day. Tower foundation drilling and cable route under-boring continued through distinctly inclement spring weather. Chemical additives were employed to speed up the concrete foundation curing time, with the 4th and final tower being erected even before the concrete had cured so that wiring of the lights could begin while a crane supported the tower.
Wells brought in electricians from around the country to boost resources both on-site and in the group’s switchgear factory. Innovative ideas such as pre-fitting and positioning the light fittings to pre-calculated angles while the tower still lay on the ground were adopted to save time once the towers reached site.
It was a 1.2 million dollar, 122,00 man-hour project, condensed into just 7 weeks, but the end result was achieved, the game held and televised without a hitch, and then the accolades began to roll in.
Television crews were quoted as saying that the light quality was as good as any stadium in the country. Rugby park was named the third best rugby stadium on earth by New Zealand World magazine in 2009. Wells was awarded the “Electrical Industry Supreme Excellence Award” and judges said that it was an “extraordinary triumph against all odds”.
Following the success of this project, a further investment was made in the park some years later, with the grandstand being rebuilt, a 2nd grandstand added to the opposite side of the park, and additional lighting installed along the roof-edge of the two stadiums to cater for day/night cricket fixtures.
Rugby Park, now Yarrow stadium hosts Super Rugby games, as well as the All blacks. Because the floodlighting quality was so high, the stadium also met the standards of the Rugby World cup, which had higher demands for lighting than Super Rugby and All Blacks, and was able to secure three Rugby world cup games.