By DAVID HILL
It’s an unremarkable stretch of land, punctuated by a few trees and a handful of buildings that have seen better days.
Over the next 30 months, the council-owned block on Rangiora’s Coldstream Road will be transformed into the jewel in the Waimakariri district’s sporting crown.
The site, to the east of the all-weather hockey turf, will be home to the district’s new $27.85 million multi-use sports stadium.
It will be sited to allow enough room for eventual development of a second hockey surface.
The stadium will form the core of a growing sporting hub, which already comprises the Rangiora Showgrounds, Canterbury’s first-class cricket ground Mainpower Oval, the Maria Andrews Reserve football ground, and the hockey field.
The sports stadium was signed off in the council’s Long Term Plan in June.
“At the moment we are planning to build four courts as well as a fitness centre,” said the council’s community and recreation manager, Craig Sargison, who ventured out to explain the lie of the land.
“We have the new hockey turf here and beside that is provision for a new hockey turf, and beside that hockey turf will be the new stadium, and beyond that there is provision for tennis courts.”
He says the stadium is on track to open in December 2020, with the tendering process due to be completed early next year once the final detailed design is completed.
The stadium’s final detailed design will allow for growth, including an additional two indoor courts, Mr Sargison says.
It will be operated by the North Canterbury Sport and Recreation Trust.
“The sports trust is absolutely delighted with the council’s decision,” its chief executive, Michael Sharp, says.
“We just see a huge benefit to our community,” he says.
He believes the stadium will go a long way toward fulfilling the mantra, “kids in sport, out of court”, and will help in the fight against obesity.
He says basketball, netball and futsal in particular are growing sports in the region, so the stadium is badly needed.
“With a lot of these sports, if we can play home and away it reduces the travel, and to have a health and fitness centre on the side, it can pull in more team sports for team training.
“But the community can use it, too, so it’s not just about elite sport.”
Portfolio holder Cr Wendy Doody says she is delighted the project is going ahead to support a growing district.
“We’ve got so many young ones coming through wanting to play sport and the indoor court facility will be just wonderful. And it’s not only for sport, it’s also for other uses, like private functions and community events, so this is going to be a multi-purpose building.”
The new stadium will also benefit the district’s ageing population, Mr Sharp says.
“Our generation is getting older, so they need to be indoors as well as outdoors.
“You see a lot of them going for walks and all of that, but when the weather’s no good they need to be indoors to keep that ‘move it or lose it’.”