Stadium celebrates; now eyes next 25 years

Anne Craik plays during the Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium’s 25th anniversary tournament on Sunday....
Anne Craik plays during the Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium’s 25th anniversary tournament on Sunday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
After five years, it looked like it might fall over.

On Sunday, the Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Now the goal is for it to still be there in another 25 years.

The stadium hosted a fours tournament on Sunday to celebrate the anniversary, followed by a dinner for its volunteers.

Stadium vice-president John Latimer said it had been a "pretty special" achievement to celebrate.

It had been a "huge task" building the stadium and, when it ran into financial difficulties in early 2000, its future looked bleak.

But it was reshaped to become completely voluntary.

That allowed it to wipe a $1.3 million debt.

Latimer said there would have been "hundreds" of volunteers over the years, although at present there were around 20.

To continue to exist for that long on that model was no mean feat.

Two key figures — Keith Ellwood, who was influential in getting it off the ground, and Alan Nicholls, who came up with the new operating model — spoke at the dinner.

It has become a huge asset for the sport through the winter months, hosting many events including Professional Bowls Association tournaments.

However, its impact extended beyond bowls.

It holds functions such as weddings and birthdays, meetings for a range of non-bowls clubs and organisations, provided meals for those involved in Covid testing and draws cruise ship visitors.

It attracts more than 20,000 visits per year.

Latimer said the goal was now to still be around for another 25 years.

The existing model of operating for six months of the year was not sustainable.

The stadium was in the process of trying to make it a year-round bowls facility.

"It’s huge, not just for the bowls but for all these community activities," Latimer said of the stadium’s importance.

"If we didn’t have the stadium, it’s the best stadium in New Zealand, Dunedin can’t afford to not have it here.

"We’re doing everything to make that happen, but we can’t do that on the existing model of operating for six months of the year.

"We need outdoor bowling greens there and we can have a barperson managing the place 12 months of the year, rather than six months.

"All that added income that comes in will generate so much more for the community."

He added that it regularly attracted high praise from visitors.

It was the only stadium of its like in New Zealand and bowlers from around the country would express their thoughts on how good it was.

Cruise ship visitors also often had high praise for it.

Many would go around New Zealand playing at bowls facilities and Latimer said they enjoyed coming to Dunedin as they knew the weather would not effect their play.

Jean Young skipped a team which also comprised of Judy Robertson, Bruce McDowall and Jenny Dhyrberg to win Sunday’s tournament.

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