North Taranaki Midweek
No covered seating for Bulls games
There will be no chance of rugby fans raising the roof while watching the Taranaki Bulls this year – construction delays mean there will be no covered seating at Yarrow Stadium for the 2022 season.
The news was revealed in separate statements emailed by the Taranaki Regional Council and Taranaki Rugby chief executive Mike Sandle on Monday last week alerting supporters of the team to the situation.
Delays to the now $70 million construction project mean the roof of the West Stand now won’t be completed until later this year, and there will be no covered grandstand seating available during 2022, Sandle said.
It is another blow to the project, which has blown out its budget from $50m to $70m and was initially due to have spectators watching rugby from the repaired West Stand last year.
When roof work got under way in Feburary, it was expected to be completed within 12 to 16 weeks and be ready by early June, ahead of the Bulls’ season opening.
Sandle said the union was of the understanding the roof would be completed in time for the Bulls game against Waikato on September 3, and it had sold sponsorships, memberships and hospitality packages in good faith on that basis.
‘‘We recognise a number of our commercial partners and members will have purchased tickets expecting to be under cover,’’
Sandle said. ‘‘It’s my great hope that the community will continue to support Taranaki Rugby despite this change in circumstances.’’
Mike Nield, director-corporate services at the regional council, which owns the venue through the Taranaki Stadium Trust, said it would not be providing compensation for the union.
‘‘We’re continuing to talk with operator NPDC [New Plymouth District Council] and the TRFU while they examine options for supporters ahead of the 3 September reopening of Yarrow Stadium.’’
Nield said contractors had pulled out all the stops to get the roof done but the winter weather meant the construction crew had been unable to complete it safely.
‘‘The project team had allowed for 25 rain days in the programme and the number of rain delay days to the project has been over double this.
‘‘It’s disappointing but the weather is out of our control so we’re asking fans to be prepared for rain or shine. We may be the sunshine capital of Aotearoa but it’s still winter so please wrap up warm or bring a raincoat when you come along to cheer on the Bulls.’’
The international-quality hybrid turf and new eco-friendly LED lights would be ready, he said.
Nield said the delay in completing the installation of the new roof would not impact on the budget for repairing the West Stand.
The Bulls are playing their first two home games of the season at Pukekura Park but have committed to playing their last three round-robin games and any home playoffs at Yarrow Stadium.
Last month, the regional council revealed the budget for the project had increased 40% on the same day it released the latest designs for what the brand new East Stand will look like.
At the time, it the council also announced the Government was pitching in another $10m, along with an interest-free loan of up to $5m. It had already committed $20m. This meant the targeted rate was not changing, but would be charged for longer.
The new East Stand is due to be built by 2024 and will provide more flexibility, with visitors able to use it for both the main pitch and the outer fields, though the seating capacity has been reduced from 4000 to 1800.
The redevelopment project was announced in 2019, after the two grandstands were declared earthquake-prone in 2017 and 2018.
Sandle thanked the construction workers and said once completed the facilities at Yarrow Stadium would be the envy of other regional centres, with its new hybrid turf perfect for entertaining rugby.