Project receives boost

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Southland Softball Association president Rata Hopa outside softball's ageing clubrooms in the Surrey Park sporting precinct.

THE Southland Softball Association (SSA) has received a major funding boost towards the development of its proposed new regional $1.8 million facility at Surrey Park.

SSA has received a grant of $250,000 from the Lottery Grants Board Community Facilities Fund towards the development. Other funding already secured included $750,000 from the ILT Foundation and the Invercargill Licensing Trust (ILT) earlier this year and the softball community had committed to raising $300,000 through fundraising efforts and in-kind donations.

If funding applications to other community funders are successful, construction of the new facility is expected to start at the end of next winter.

“It is a big lift for our softball community realising our dream is coming true, and it has been many years waiting for new facilities,” SSA president Rata Hopa said.

SSA provides the facilities for all softball activities in Southland, and the region’s seven softball clubs use the Surrey Park clubrooms as their base.

The present SSA clubrooms were developed on the south side of ILT Stadium Southland in the mid-1960s. After much of the original building was destroyed by fire in 1982, the facility was largely rebuilt in 1983. While the building had been well utilised and maintained, little had been done to modernise or develop the facilities since that time.

Hopa said the building was outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

The proposed new development will be located on the north side of the Surrey Park athletics track.

It will contain changing rooms, umpires’ rooms, a meeting/community room, administration, bar and kitchen facilities as well as storage rooms.

Hopa said at present, softball games were played on three different sites. SSA had decided to move its clubrooms and swap grounds with the Waihopai Association Football Club so all softball could be together on one site.

It was hoped the project could be completed debt free, she said.

“When the first spade goes into the ground, we believe people will be there to help us get over the line because they won’t want to see us with a debt at the end of the project.”

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