RUGBY Southland Supporters Club and the Invercargill City Council (ICC) are at odds over the closure of the Supporters Club’s lounge at Rugby Park.
Council staff closed the lounge last month, citing the presence of toxic mould as the reason.
Members of the Supporters Club dispute the claim and want their clubroom reopened.
“The whole thing is a shambles,” Rugby Southland Supporters Club president Tony Rabbitt said.
Club members did not believe there was toxic mould in the lounge and had requested the council allow them access to conduct their own testing, he said. They were still awaiting a response to their request.
They met with council representatives last week to discuss the issue. After the meeting, Mr Rabbitt said nothing had been resolved.
The council had not given them any indication of when the problem would be rectified or when the lounge would be reopened, he said.
The Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust gifted the financially troubled Rugby Park to the Invercargill City Council in 2015.
In 2015/2016, the council repaired leaks and damage to the stadium building costing $185,000.
At the time then finance director Dean Johnston said the repair work had been completed to a “very high trade standard” and water entry issues were thought to have been resolved.
Long-time Southland Supporters Club member and bar manager Peter Kett said there were water leaks in the Supporters Club several years ago, but the council had been quick to repair the leaks and there had been no further issues.
The council closed Rugby Southland’s offices next to the Supporters Club lounge in April after toxic mould was detected, but Mr Kett said the Supporters Club had a separate heating system from the offices so the mould could not have been transferred into the Supporters Club.
ICC chief executive Clare Hadley said two separate tests had identified the presence of toxic mould in the lounge.
“Our prime concern must always be the health and safety of the occupants of our buildings, which is why we have acted promptly in this matter, and the immediate risk has been mitigated.”
The council had been advised the major contributing factor to the leaks in the Rugby Southland offices and the Supporters Club Lounge was where the old grandstand connected with the new one, she said.
The older part of the grandstand is adjacent to the Supporters Club lounge.
Waterproofing has been applied as an interim measure which appeared to have stopped the leaks, she said.
The cost of cleaning the mould would be about $40,000-$50,000, and replacement of contaminated materials between $30,000-$40,000, she said.
No decisions had yet been made to undertake the work, as the condition of the old grandstand must also be considered in relation to the wider issue, Mrs Hadley said.
Mr Kett said the Supporters Club had a long-term lease to occupy the clubroom, which members had built about 20 years ago at a cost of $180,000. “We put in the time, money and effort to get that place up and running.
“We would like the ICC to provide the club with an alternative site on the ground (until the issue with the lounge is resolved).”
Extra support needed
IT seems water leaks are not the only problem with the Rugby Park grandstand.
Scaffolding erected under a section of the old grandstand, which had been in place before the ICC bought Rugby Park, was no longer providing sufficient support.
Invercargill City Council chief executive Clare Hadley said the council received certification for the older part of the grandstand yearly. As part of the certification process, experts had insisted on extra bracing to the scaffolding in the past two years, which had been undertaken.
However, during the most recent certification earlier this year, experts indicated the grandstand would need extensive support installed in order for it to receive certification next season, Mrs Hadley said.
“This means the council may need to address the old grandstand area in order to also permanently resolve the leaking issue.”
Rugby Southland Supporters Club member Peter Kett said a piece of concrete had fallen from the underside of the affected section of the grandstand onto the ceiling of the Supporters Club several years ago.
He questioned why the council had not addressed the problems earlier. “Paying rental to Brazier Scaffolding is a waste of money.
“[The council] knew the problems with the stadium when they took over ownership.”