Imagine playing soccer in the depth of winter and not feeling the cold, or playing hockey in the thick of summer and not worrying about being sunburnt or dehydrated. Well, now it is a possibility.
New technology is making its way down under to revolutionise our sporting landscape.
“These domes are air inflated and they are climate controlled through that air. It is a certain fabric that is used to create these open design spaces with no internal structures.” said Todd Bowden, founder and director of Sports PM.
“In Australia, and in particular the New England, we have a very diverse climate. We can get down to below zero in winter and up above 35 degrees in summer, and this technology is perfect for all of this.”
Air supported dome technology has been growing across the United States and Saudi Arabia for more than 30 years, and goes beyond just sport. Mining and agricultural business are looking to adapt the domes for minimal cost and maximum produce and participation.
“These domes costs around one third of traditional construction. It would be the same construction timeframe, but they are also transportable. Take them down, put them up wherever you want to. They are held down by anchors.” said Todd.
“We currently have a few domes in the mines in WA and one in Sydney.”
“And we are in talks in Toowoomba looking to put in six a side football, tennis, and your other traditional sports. Its amazing the excessive land space our domes can cover.”
On average, outdoor sporting venues lose up to 45% of days each year due to poor weather conditions. In turn, that is participation and revenue loss regional sporting clubs cannot afford to lose.
Depending on the current weather condition, an El Nino or La Nina can dictate the ability to train or play in the New England, and alternative options are always worth the conversation.
“It’s 100% a good idea, but the only downside is, in a lot of cases council owned sporting facilities are generally in the flood plain.”
“Inverell, Armidale, Gunnedah, Tamworth- if there is a field outside of the flood plain this would be good.” said Tim Coates, Coach Oxley Vale Attunga Senior Mens Football Teams.
“We just want to have somewhere dry to play and an all-weather surface under a dome would be brilliant.”
Hockey Associations can also see the cost benefits.
“I can see this technology being a really good one to use, particularly in the cold climate. To play in all weather would extend the season out through the year.” said Ross Briggs, president, Tamworth Hockey Association.
“Summer gets too hot, so if it could be done to have a shaded pitch and a cooling system then we could certainly have a more pleasant summer competition.”
“And we irrigate our fields to make the balls roll better, so reducing the evaporation would reduce our water consumption and would make it cheaper in the long run.”