Future options for Yarrow Stadium will be presented early in the New Year, and the regional community will need to consider carefully what it wants and where funding will come from.
That’s the message from the facility’s owner, the Taranaki Stadium Trust and its co-funder, the Taranaki Regional Council, as they work alongside the operator, the New Plymouth District Council, and the Taranaki Rugby Football Union.
“All four parties are committed to finding a solution for Yarrow Stadium, and getting it implemented as soon as possible,” says Mike Nield, a Trustee of the Taranaki Stadium Trust. “Work continues at full pace to put flesh on potential solutions.”
He says detailed, peer-reviewed engineering reports earlier this year analysed and clarified the issues that led to the two grandstands being declared earthquake-prone and closed to the public.
Options for the public to consider will range from simply reinstating the Stadium to its former state (with modest improvements) through to expanding its capacity and the range of activities it can cater for, and making it a more versatile venue for users.
Mr Nield says preliminary engineering reports make it clear that rehabilitating or ‘fixing’ the current stands would be possible and would cost a lot less than a total rebuild at the current site or some other location. If the stands were to be fixed, it would be sensible to consider incorporating a range of improvements, some of which were on the horizon before the earthquake-prone issues emerged.
Once all the options are developed in the New Year, they would go out for public consultation. After decisions are made, progress towards implementation could begin in mid-2019.
The Chairman of the Taranaki Regional Council, David MacLeod, says borrowing will be required to fund whatever option is chosen. “There are limits on what the TRC can and should prudently borrow to support the Taranaki Stadium Trust in implementing solutions,” he says.
Mr MacLeod says formal public consultation will take place next year after options and costings are put to the community.
“The TRC acknowledges that the consultation process is yet to take place, but we need to signal now that if the community wants a facility with capacity and usage options significantly more than what Yarrow Stadium has offered until this year, then financial support will be needed from other funders.”