Oban Live ‘in jeop­ardy’ with loss of blaise pitch

The Oban Times - - NEWS - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­times.co.uk

OR­GAN­IS­ERS have raised fears for the fu­ture of the Oban Live fes­ti­val be­cause of pend­ing changes at Moss­field Sta­dium due to the new high school.

The Oban Live mu­sic fes­ti­val, which held its first event at Moss­field this year, brought 10,000 vis­i­tors and £2mil­lion to the town on a non-hol­i­day week­end, and tick­ets for next year’s event, to be held on June 2 and 3, are due to go on sale soon.

But Neil Mackay, joint event di­rec­tor of Oban Live, told a joint surgery of lo­cal area coun­cil­lors in the Cor­ran Halls on Novem­ber 2 that Oban Live was ‘ in jeop­ardy’ be­cause the nearby blaise pitch is due to be grassed over for a games field.

‘If we do not have the blaise pitch and the car park­ing, the event is in jeop­ardy,’ Mr Mackay said. ‘Surely there is an­other site? The so­lu­tion has to come very shortly. We have na­tional and lo­cal part­ner­ships ready to go. What a tragedy if we have to can­cel this.’

Speak­ing to The Oban Times, he ex­plained: ‘ We are fi­nal­is­ing the head­lin­ers. It’s all in jeop­ardy if we do not have the blaise pitch. It will be im­pos­si­ble to run it. We need park­ing be­cause we have 6,000 folk and heavy ve­hi­cles with equip­ment.’

Coun­cil­lor Roddy McCuish said: ‘I see Moss­field de­vel­op­ing as a hub for events, rather than just a foot­ball or shinty pitch used ev­ery cou­ple of weeks. The last thing I want is for Oban Live to be can­celled.’

Coun­cil­lor Elaine Robert­son said if the high school could not use the blaise pitch, some­where else would have to be found for pupils to play.

She said: ‘The high school has to go for­ward hav­ing suf­fi­cient play­ing fields. It is ab­so­lutely part of the re­mit.’

Naomi Hoola­han, Oban Live’s head event di­rec­tor, said: ‘Oban Live has re­quested in­for­ma­tion on the re­moval of the red blaise sur­face from coun­cil­lors and Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil. We are wait­ing for a re­sponse. Once we have this in­for­ma­tion, our event team will look at how and if this will im­pact plans for Oban Live 2017.

‘It is a huge op­er­a­tional chal­lenge to make Moss­field and the sur­round­ing area safe and ac­ces­si­ble for ma­jor events. The red blaise sur­face is es­sen­tial not only to the Oban Live event but also to other key events held at the sta­dium where park­ing and ac­cess are al­ready very lim­ited, es­pe­cially for those with mo­bil­ity re­quire­ments.

‘In­vest­ment in any com­mu­nity as­set is a great thing for the town and we hope that the in­vest­ment in Moss­field will up­grade the cur­rent fa­cil­i­ties and in­crease the use of the sta­dium for events of all kinds. The team are very ex­cited about Oban Live 2017.’

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil said: ‘We are in­vest­ing more than £ 30 mil­lion to cre­ate a fan­tas­tic new high school. As part of the agreed de­sign, the blaise sports pitch is be­ing re­placed with a new grass pitch, which will meet the needs of high school and com­mu­nity users. These agreed plans have been in­formed by a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, and plan­ning per­mis­sion was granted on the ba­sis that a grass pitch would be in­stalled.’

Other events which use Moss­field and its blaise pitch for park­ing have also voiced con­cerns.

The Ca­manachd As­so­ci­a­tion’s Torquil Ma­cleod said: ‘Moss­field pro­vides an ex­cel­lent venue for ma­jor shinty events, at­tract­ing thou­sands of spec­ta­tors. As with any ma­jor event, car park­ing is a sig­nif­i­cant con­cern. The Ca­manachd Cup fi­nal re­quires space for ap­prox­i­mately 400 ve­hi­cles. The last two Ca­manachd Cup fi­nals in Oban have been com­pro­mised by the lack of avail­able park­ing at the sta­dium due to dou­ble-book­ing of the blaise pitch, re­duc­ing ve­hi­cle ca­pac­ity to around 100.’

Crowds flocked to Oban Live in May this year but the hugely pop­u­lar fes­ti­val is now at risk.

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