THE Surrey Park grandstand is an essential community facility which needs to be saved, user groups say.
“We need a grandstand. It’s a no-brainer,” Waihopai Football Club president Gordon Crombie said.
“You can’t view athletics from ground level. Without a grandstand how would athletics attract larger events to Invercargill?
“What would the community funders think if a facility they had funded couldn’t attract events due to a lack of a grandstand?”
Invercargill City Council (ICC) announced in October last year the 51-year-old grandstand was an earthquake risk and erected signs at the entrance advising users of the potential risks until a decision was made about its future. Demolishing the grandstand was one option being considered by the council.
Mr Crombie said he was frustrated a decision had not yet been made about the grandstand’s fate, as he had been told by a senior staffer at ICC a decision would be made by April.
“We want answers because we need to start planning.”
The football club leases space under the grandstand for its clubrooms.
Athletics Southland chairman Chris Knight also wanted the grandstand retained.
“Hell yeah, we want the grandstand to stay.
“We hold some pretty big competitions down here and the stand is chocka block.”
Half of the bank on the north side of the track had been lost to Southland Softball Association’s new clubrooms, and without that or the grandstand there would be nowhere for supporters to sit, he said.
Southland Secondary Principals Association chairman Jarlath Kelly said the grandstand was an important facility which benefitted the school community.
“Schools would be keen to see it fixed, updated or rebuilt.”
Invercargill and Southland school sports were held at Surrey Park but the facility was also used for zone sports competitions and Southland regional competitions, he said.
“Many of our students are involved in athletics clubs and the stands provide an important facility to assist in the delivery of those events for both competitors and spectators, and without those facilities it would be difficult for schools and athletics clubs to run those events as we currently do.
“Additionally, without these events it would be likely that Southland would not be able to attract South Island or other competitions to Invercargill which benefit the wider community.”
ICC acting chief executive Cameron McIntosh said the council had obtained estimates for three options – $25,000 to demolish and leave the site clear, $2.2 million to refurbish and repair the existing stand, or $3 million to demolish and build a new stand.
Council staff were working with Sport Southland on the Southland Regional Spaces and Places Plan which would help identify the need for, and location of, a grandstand as part of that process, he said.
The council would consider its next steps once the plan was completed, which was expected to be in late 2019/early 2020, he said.
In correspondence to Mr Crombie this week, ICC interim parks manager Michele Frey said – “it is important that we consider the future of the facility in the broader context of other sports facilities across the region so we are making the best investment decisions.”