Clubs want indoor facility back on priority list

A number of sports games were rained off in Oamaru last weekend. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A number of sports games were rained off in Oamaru last weekend. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Oamaru sports clubs are calling for a renewed push for a new indoor recreation centre.

Last weekend's rained-off games highlighted the need for an indoor stadium, North Otago Netball president Sonya Macdonald said.

"Although it has been a very good winter, all netball over the weekend was abandoned because the surface was too slippery and dangerous," Miss McDonald said.

"When we are meant to be hosting representative tournaments, if we have weather like that, it all gets cancelled.

"That is disappointing for our sport and town."

An indoor stadium would allow games to be played on week nights, which would increase the number of players, she said.

"Because everything happens on a Saturday, people have to make choices about what sports miss out.

"If we had all our sports co-ordinating, it would be better for all sports."

Earlier this month, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher told the Oamaru Mail plans for a new indoor sports stadium were on the backburner. After some preliminary and investigative work had been done, other projects had taken priority, Mr Kircher said.

"We need to get on to it at some stage, but there is just a lot going on," he said.

"It is certainly not forgotten. We just need to get the next steps in place.

"How much can happen before the election is questionable."

North Otago Rugby Union chief executive Colin Jackson said the town needed a sporting hub, and building an indoor complex next to Whitestone Contracting Stadium would be the best option.

"I think the council needs to make it a priority," Mr Jackson said.

"I don't think sport and recreation should be on the backburner.

"It is not all about rugby. We need to increase participation; it does not matter what sport it is."

Oamaru was well placed geographically and could attract sports tournaments, he said.

A North Otago Basketball spokeswoman said it was disappointing the stadium project had lost momentum.

"There is nothing more important or relevant, at this time, that council should be investing their time and ratepayer money in than the wellbeing of our community," the spokeswoman said.

A high-calibre stadium would not only fulfil the needs of sports like basketball, but also cater for community groups and attract large events to town, she said.

"The next steps need to be put in place and acted upon sooner rather than later."

Mr Kircher said there was a lot of planning to be done before the council decided whether it was a viable project.

"Our resources are stretched. As much as we want to get on to clarifying the project, we have several other things on the go and sorted in the meantime.

"At the moment it is sitting at 2023 in the long-term plan and the first step is to see if that timing is realistic."

Mr Kircher said council staff were busy working on other projects such as public toilets, the Oamaru Harbour master plan and the Thames St revitalisation.

"I hope the new council talks about it as one of its priorities and I would encourage those who want it to happen to talk to councillors when they get the opportunity."

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