Loss of stadium 'shatters' Southland

Stadium Southland collapses under the pressure of snowfall. Credit:NZPA / Dianne Manson..
Stadium Southland collapses under the pressure of snowfall. Credit:NZPA / Dianne Manson..
Stadium Southland users were forced to flee falling debris as the roof of the home of Southland sport collapsed under heavy "very wet" snow.

Wild and windy storms are blasting parts of the country. Invercargill was blanketed and between 10-20cm of snow has fallen in coastal parts of Southland.

Residents are being asked to remain in their homes overnight and only travel in urgent cases because of the threat of ice on the roads.

The weight of snow was too much for the roof of the 10-year-old Invercargill stadium, where a small number of users were forced to flee the falling material about 11.30am when the roof above the netball courts started to go, the Southland Times reported.

However, luckily no one was injured.

"We have never had a snow fall this big before," stadium manager Nigel Skelt told TVNZ.

"We are really conscious it wasn't during a peak time because the result could have been far more catastrophic. We are just talking about a building here."

The 2000-seat venue cost about $10 million to build and was opened in 2000.

It is the home of the Southern Steel netball team and also houses New Zealand's only indoor cycling velodrome, however the velodrome section was undamaged.

BikeNZ chief executive Kieran Turner said his heart skipped a beat when heard the news, and what that might mean for the build-up to the Olympic Games.

"The velodrome is fine," he said.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he had very fond memories of Southland sporting success at the stadium, including his own Dancing With The Stars rehearsal there.

"So much of our history has gone on in that stadium, so we are all very sad and quite shattered by what's happened."

It was very fortunate there was no major event on at the stadium at the time, he said.

"We are very lucky it was virtually empty."

Alan Dennis, the deputy chairman of the Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust, which owns the stadium, told NZPA the stadium itself was a complete write off.

The roof should have stood up to the weight of snow and it was lucky not many people were inside at the time. There would be an investigation, he said.

"We thought it would have stood up to a snow storm.

"Obviously the weight of snow was more than what was expected by the designers and engineers and the people who signed it off."

However, a mitigating factor was that a number of other roofs around the city had also collapse, including that of a local supermarket, he said.

"We haven't had a snow like that in my lifetime here."

The stadium now faced staffing issues, up to 20 people were employed there, and planned events for up to two years ahead would have to be cancelled.

It was the base for a lot of franchises. Last year there were 80 events such as conferences and shows, not to mention every day local sport, Mr Dennis said.

The stadium was very well covered, with insurance for every possible outcome, he said.

He said a damage figure of $8m to $10m wouldn't be out of order, depending on what could be salvaged.


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