Parking meters for stadium considered

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ILT Stadium Southland users could be lumped with parking costs in the future, with parking meters eyed as a possible revenue-generating option.

The Invercargill City Council currently stumps up $400,000 a year to help subsidise the running of Stadium Southland.

The Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust, which owns Stadium Southland, is asking for an extra $300,000 a year from the ICC to help maintain the current standard of the venue and its operations.

The ICC’s 2018-2028 long-term plan had indicated the council’s preferred option was to decline the request.

Feedback from the public on the ICC increasing funding was split almost 50-50.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said introducing parking meters at Stadium Southland’s 600-plus car park had been discussed at ICC workshops and he felt the idea had merit, although the submission details on Stadium Southland funding needed to be worked through before any decisions were made.

The parking costs would also impact on the users of the athletics track at Surrey Park.

Mr Shadbolt said parking charges worked well at Invercargill Airport. He felt something similar in a user-pays capacity might be a way to help Stadium Southland, rather than the ICC directly coughing up $300,000 from ratepayer money.

A gold coin spectator fee was used for seven months in 2002 to boost stadium finances before the policy was ditched.

Mr Shadbolt felt parking meters could be a more efficient way to help generate finances rather than going back to charging spectators a gold coin for community activities.

ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said the gold coin fee caused more hassle than it did good.

It cost about $25,000 in staffing resources to generate about $70,000 in return, Mr Skelt said. It also instigated a lot of resentment towards stadium staff, as spectators felt they had already contributed to the venue through community funding from the ILT and Community Trust of Southland.

Mr Skelt wondered if parking meters might have a similar effect.

When the gold coin spectator fee was in place, there were many cases of parents waiting in their cars instead of going inside the venue to watch their children play, Mr Skelt said.

“Some parents might have three or four kids playing all different sports, and it was costing them $20 to $30 a week in some cases. It would be similar if you introduced parking meters.”

“We don’t want to have barriers which put people off using this great community facility.”

Mr Skelt asked if new parking meters at Stadium Southland would mean parking charges would also be introduced at places such as the Splash Palace pool as a matter of fairness.

Mr Shadbolt said that could be an option.

Bumping up hire costs for the organisations which use the venue was another possible way to help generate the extra money needed for Stadium Southland. However, Mr Skelt believed that would be a risky move for the city in terms of trying to attract events.

“We are operating in a very competitive market with what is happening in other places. We need to remain competitive.

“If we weren’t competitive [with the price], we wouldn’t have been able to get events like the World Shearing Championships to the city. Those events have a great benefit to the community.”

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