Unley Oval Upgrade Works


Unley Oval is considered by many to be Council’s premier open space asset and is well used by residents and the wider community for a range of recreational purposes. Various community and sporting events are also held on this highly regarded site.

Council is replacing the existing lights and will provide a new turf surface at the Oval over the coming months. The upgrades are part of Council’s ongoing commitment to providing a premier, high-quality open space facility within the City of Unley, ensuring it continues to be fit-for-purpose for Council, our residents and the wider community, the Sturt Football Club and other sporting clubs.

Communications have commenced with our community and we have sent letters about the project(PDF, 137KB) to residents in areas affected by works(PDF, 203KB) adjacent to the Oval.

Lighting upgrade

The scope of the project is to remove all existing metal halide lights which are now getting towards the end of their useful lives and install new LED fittings.

There are no new or additional poles proposed to be installed and all existing infrastructure is to be retained and used for the new lights. Council is undertaking the upgrade of the Oval lights as part of its ongoing implementation of various environmental sustainability initiatives, including installation of LED lighting at its own buildings and facilities.

The Sturt Football Club requested an increase in existing lighting levels from 100lux to 150lux to enable it to comply with SANFL training requirements. As part of its request, the Club committed to meeting costs incurred to increase lighting levels. This request was considered in the August Council agenda (page 135) and Council agreed and accepted the club's offer to pay additional costs. 

The requested 150lux will not enable the hosting of night matches at the Oval - this requires a lighting level which is greater than 500lux.

A new playing surface

The scope of the project involves the removal of the existing turf surface which in recent years has been a challenge for Council to maintain. The upgrade will provide new drainage, irrigation, sub-surface, turf surface and four cricket pitches.

There is currently no drainage at the Oval. In this respect, the new drainage which is to be provided as part of the project is a significant element of the upgrade. It will be essential in ensuring an improved and much better wearing surface, which will be easier to maintain over the long term and provide more safety for players of all sports.

In 2022, Council undertook a review of the licensee usage of Unley Oval for the Sturt Football Club and Sturt Cricket Club. Following the conclusion of the review, Council decided to retain organised sport at the facility. The new turf surface will take into account the usage of the Oval and will be constructed accordingly to meet the objectives of use by the wider community, as well as those sporting clubs which call Unley Oval home.   

Lighting upgrade schedule

Works are scheduled to commence on Tuesday 3 October 2023 and are expected to take approximately two weeks to complete. The works need to commence following the final AFLW match at Unley scheduled for Sunday 1 October. The previously proposed third match of the AFLW season, which was to be played on Sunday 29 October at Unley, has been relocated to Norwood Oval to allow these works to commence sooner.

Council is committed to completing the works in a timely manner to ensure minimal disruptions to use of the Oval by residents and the wider community. During the works there will be no lighting at all and thus no access to the Oval. The proposed schedule of the lighting replacement works is subject to weather conditions.

Playing surface schedule

These works are scheduled to commence on Monday 9 October 2023 and are expected to take around six months to complete. The works will be undertaken in five key stages as follows:

  • Stage 1 (5-weeks) preliminaries, site setup and management, turf stripping and grading.
  • Stage 2 (4-weeks) irrigation installation.
  • Stage 3 (2-weeks) delivery of growing material and turf preparation.
  • Stage 4 (2-weeks) turf delivery and laying.
  • Stage 5 (12-weeks) turf establishment and maintenance.  

The proposed phased delivery of the works is subject to weather conditions. As such, the program is subject to changes which will be communicated as these are known and confirmed. All efforts are being made to ensure these works are delivered as efficiently as possible to minimise any inconvenience to clubs and the public.

Unley Oval Upgrades - Latest News

Lighting upgrade works commenced on 3 October and have now been completed, with turf works now well and truly underway.

Council engaged Belair Turf Management (BTM), to deliver the playing surface works.

Temporary fencing was installed on 9 October to secure the site.

Stripping of the existing turf commenced on 16 October and this is expected to take approximately 2 weeks to complete.

Following this, excavation works and site grading of the field will commence, which is expected to take approximately 2 weeks to complete.




Frequently asked questions

While the resurfacing of Unley Oval will be managed by Council, expert contractors BTM will be carrying out the work, which involves excavation and installation of irrigation systems and replacement of turf. This will result in a top-quality surface for playing sport, running, recreation and dog walking, all the things our community enjoys about this iconic asset. 

Will there be access to use the Oval during the turf resurfacing works?

No. The existing turf surface will be completely excavated for the duration of the works and for safety reasons, access to the Oval cannot be provided at all. However, the majority of the outer areas of the Oval where no works are proposed can be used for recreational purposes, including the children's playgrounds and public toilet facilities which will remain open. We would also like our community to be aware of Council's contractors and to ensure that their access to and from the site is not impeded or restricted.

What alternative locations are available when access to the Oval is not permitted? 

For general recreation, Council's other parks, reserves and playgrounds can be found here.

What about dog exercise areas and off-leash parks?

Council's parks and reserves with exercise and off-leash provisions for dogs can be found here.

Will Council be providing the community with further updates about upgrade works at Unley Oval?

Yes. Council will provided updates regarding the works at Unley Oval through various means to ensure the community is kept informed. Updates will be provided via:

  • Unley Oval scoreboard with regular messages uploaded
  • Council social media channels (Facebook and Instagram) will provide latest information and news
  • This dedicated web page, which will be updated regularly.
  • An initial letterbox drop has been done, communicating with approximately 400 residents who live within the area bounded by Marion Road, Duthy Street, Fairford Street and Unley Road.

What other things will residents in the area need to be aware of?

For periods during turf removal and replacement, nearby residents and Oval users will notice an increase in truck movements to and from the site. All heavy vehicle movements during the works will be via a temporary access point at the Frederick Street frontage to the Oval. Routes for heavy vehicles will be via Duthy Street, Unley Road and Oxford Terrace. Times of heavy vehicle movements will be restricted from 7am to 4pm weekdays and occasional Saturdays when required.  

How can I get more information regarding the proposed works?

If you have inquiries or concerns about the project itself such as:

  • Why is Council doing this?
  • Why are the works taking so long?
  • Where can I get more information about the scope of the works?
  • What other locations are there for me to exercise my dog?

Please contact Council and we will be happy to answer your questions. Call our Customer Experience Team on 8372 5111.

If you have inquiries or concerns about the works themselves such as:

  • Noise, dust or work vehicles access and egress
  • Site work hours
  • Cleanliness and tidiness of the site
  • Report after-hours incidents or issues.

Please contact BTM Site Manager, Simon Gunn, via email at Simon.gunn@belairturf.com.au or call 0421 923 108.

During the warmer, dryer months, dust may become an issue. How will this be managed?

To mitigate dust during the works at Unley Oval, BTM will implement a 3-stage plan, namely:

  • Stage 1: While existing irrigation is operational, watering will be adjusted at intervals to occur every 2-hours to suppress dust.
  • Stage 2: Once the civil component begins, a water truck will be in operation continuously wetting the ground and following the grader and loader on site.
  • Stage 3: After the subgrade cut is complete, BTM will apply 'superskin' which will remain on the Oval until the installation of the the new irrigation system is completed. 




Where do I get more information?

For Project information regarding the strategy, timing and justification about the upgrade works, please call Council's Customer Experience team and ask for the relevant Project Manager - phone 8372 5111.

For Site Management issues and information about the installation process, concerns about noise, dust or direct impact on residents and Oval visitors, please contact Site Manager Simon Gunn on 0421 923 108 or email simon.gunn@belairturf.com.au