Council officially own stadium

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THE Invercargill City Council (ICC) is the official owner of the now weather-tight Rugby Park Stadium.
The final documents were signed on July 8.
‘‘I am really proud of what we have done. At the end of the day the ICC… is the only organisation that has the financial strength and political determination to ensure that Southland has a rugby park,’’ Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said.
‘‘I think rugby is still a vital part of our culture and heritage and [it] needs to have a home.’’
Last year the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust gifted the financially troubled park to the ICC on the proviso the ICC paid the trust’s debt of $400,000 owed to the Community Trust of Southland.
Mayor Shadbolt said the delay in transferring ownership was due in part to the complexity of the different organisations involved trying to find common ground.
The ICC could ensure Rugby Park was a viable facility because it had the staff experienced in running large-scale facilities, the economic strength to operate a large venue and good administrative systems in place, he said.
Council-owned Invercargill Venue and Events Management (IVEM) has been managing the facility since April 1 last year and would continue to do so alongside its other venues, the Civic Theatre and Scottish Hall.
IVEM manager Kate Feaver said with prudent financial management Rugby Park would be a viable commercial entity.
‘‘… I am excited at the possibilities the venue has to offer. We see Rugby Park as a multi-purpose venue which can accommodate so much more than rugby alone.’’
In the past 15 months IVEM had been working to secure new and ongoing events for Southland, including securing a five-year contract to host one Highlanders game each year. Staff had also put in a bid to host a Warriors game early next year, she said.
The ICC had allocated $250,000 a year to cover park operating and maintenance costs, she said.
Over recent months, work has been carried out to repair leaks and damage in the stadium’s building at a cost of $185,000, funded from IVEM reserves.
ICC finance director Dean Johnston said in a statement a weather tightness consultant employed to check the quality and effectiveness of the repair work determined it had been completed to a ‘‘very high trade standard’’ and, although tests were still under way, indications were the water entry issues had been resolved.

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