Sports and events centre put on hold

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Plans for a new sports and events centre in Oamaru are on hold while the Waitaki District Council focuses on the immediate issues arising from Covid-19, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

“The reality is a number of things have been put on hold and that is certainly one of them.

“There is still good support [for a stadium], but obviously the focus has been on recovering from lockdown and getting further through this pandemic.”

In March, Mr Kircher was scheduled to meet key stakeholders, including potential users and funders, to discuss the project. That meeting was cancelled as the country went into lockdown and another formal meeting was yet to be rescheduled, he said.

The stadium project had missed out on a recent splurge of Government funding because it was not far enough through the planning process, Mr Kircher said. Earlier this month, Gore’s Multisports Complex received $1 million for remedial work and upgrades in two parts and Taranaki’s Yarrow Stadium received $20 million for its repair and redevelopment.

“It would have been great if we had been quite a bit further down the track with the facility planning,” Mr Kircher said.

“We could have put it in for shovel-ready funding, but it wasn’t anywhere near that.”

The next step was for the council to identify what the facility would be used for and what it would look like, he said.

“It’s just at that part of the process where we have got to get a good understanding of what people want [and], at the same time, working on the costings, and lining up potential funding sources outside of council rates.”

A Sport Otago study in 2017 recommended a six-court complex with two sprung wooden courts and four synthetic courts. One of the favoured locations was behind the Whitestone Contracting Stadium in Taward St, he said.

Its location would be determined by its configuration, as would the cost.

“We had $14 million in the long-term plan, but that was a placeholder.

“It’s something that will only happen if we get a significant amount of external funding.”

Mr Kircher said a stadium would be one of the projects discussed as part of the next long-term plan, which set out the council’s direction for the next 10 years. It would go out for consultation in 2021.

“Hopefully, we will see it within the first few years of that long-term plan.

“By that stage I expect we will have a lot more confirmed numbers around what it’s going to be and what it’s going to cost.”