Consider Rugby Park’s future before forking out $1.9m, council told
A consultant suggests the Invercargill City Council needs to consider Rugby Park’s future before throwing $1.9 million at it to fix it.
The report, which was written by Otium Planning Group and sent to the council and Sport Southland last week, says the park is underutilised, maintenance is becoming unaffordable, investment has been ad hoc, and the design does not meet spectators’ current expectations of a match-day experience.
Spending $1.9m to restore the venue, without considering future usage, may not ensure its long-term sustainability, the report says.
Otium’s advice is that a business case study should be done to determine the venue’s future.
The business case should determine whether a stadium of the scale of the park is required in Southland. If the answer is no, then according to Otium replacement needs to be considered alongside a future location or alternative uses for the space if the stadium was to be demolished.
Sport Southland had asked Otium to review Rugby Park as part of a wider Southland Spaces and Places Strategy Plan.
Sport Southland chief executive Brendon McDermott said the organisation recognised Rugby Park was a key element in the strategy plan, which was not scheduled to be finished until June 30.
Sport Southland and Sport New Zealand are prepared to help the city council with the cost of a business case.
Last year Rugby Southland was removed from its offices at Rugby
Park because of toxic mould, as was the Rugby Southland Supporters Club. It was also revealed in November that close to 1500 of the 3400 grandstand seats were off-limits because of safety concerns.
It has been recommended that the bleachers in the grandstand’s west end be demolished and rebuilt.
The work was initially estimated at $387,000. However, council chief executive Clare Hadley told councillors last month the repair cost would now be significantly more.
The Otium report estimates it would cost $1.9m to restore Rugby Park to its previous standard.
Rugby Park will be discussed at both an extraordinary meeting and the infrastructure and services committee meeting on Monday.
Councillor Nobby Clark has tabled a motion that asks that ‘‘the chief executive be instructed to undertake remedial work at Rugby Park Stadium, to be completed no later than June 2020’’.
Clark told The Southland Times that removing the mould could happen before the bleacher work took place, which would allow Rugby Southland to return to its offices.
A report prepared by Hadley, in response to Clark’s motion, said all the work was necessary or water leaks would continue.