Park trust cannot afford work

Rugby Park in Invercargill. Photo: Luisa Girao
Rugby Park in Invercargill. Photo: Luisa Girao
The charitable trust which owns Rugby Park is cash strapped and unable to make any improvements or carry out maintenance.

As a result the Invercargill City Council is now in talks about the change of ownership from the for the park.

ICC chief executive Clare Hadley said Rugby Park was owned by the Invercargill City Charitable Trust.

"However, the trust is not in a financial position to undertake any maintenance or improvements which may be required at the facility."

The trust is a council-controlled organisation, as is Invercargill Venue and Events management — the organisation responsible for operating and marketing Rugby Park.

Council was exploring the ownership matter before making any decisions related to funding work, she said.

Ownership was discussed at a public-excluded council meeting last week.

The park became news last year when Rugby Southland offices and Rugby Southland Supporters’ Club were closed after toxic mould was discovered, and a part of the main grandstand was also cordoned off over fears about the safety of the western end of the stand. Just fewer than half of the 3400 seats in the stand were deemed to be unsafe.

While the supporters’ club rooms had reopened this year, the other problems had not been rectified.

The council took over ownership of Rugby Park from the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust in 2016 when the trust faced cash-flow difficulties due to the repayment of loans to the Community Trust of Southland and Rugby Southland.

Hadley said the park’s future would be discussed in coming months, "as we expect to receive the outcomes of a governance group review into options, and as council approaches the long-term plan process".

The ICC did not reply to further questions by deadline and Southland Rugby chief executive Steve Mitchell could not be contacted.


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